What Day is It Again?

Thursday, December 29, 2022


This post is arriving a few hours late because, well, like many of us, I’ve lost track of what day it is during our holiday break. And to be honest, it’s been glorious. For so many years I felt like I couldn’t relax and enjoy time with my family during the month of December. I was always on a deadline, and even when no one else around me was working (sales reps, publishers, freelance writers) I was still sweating out the planning for the February issue of a monthly magazine. 

This year, I haven’t had to worry about that and was able to focus on producing two new episodes of my podcast, indulge in some reading, and plan revisions for a novel I wrote last year. We’ve done several trips this fall to visit my daughter who is in college in Alabama, so we decided to stay at home and not travel anywhere besides a day trip or two on this break. I’ll admit there have been a few moments where I’ve wondered to myself, “Should I be doing something right now?” Then I remind myself that I’ve been given the gift of time, which is what I always wanted, to focus on my own writing projects and creative endeavors and not someone else’s timeline. I've discovered the foreign language app DuoLingo, became obsessed, and can now almost be considered fluent in Spanish. (I do need to start working on creating my new podcast website, but I’ll hold off on that another day). But when you’ve spent much of your adult life hustling for that next assignment or contract as a freelance writer, that can be hard to embrace. 

I’m also trying to follow the advice of Sue Bradford Edwards and her post the other day, "Give Yourself 5 Gifts This Christmas.” Like most writers, I have a negative inner critic that likes to show up on days when I least expect it. “Why aren’t you published by now? Your writing isn’t that great—you have good ideas, but your execution stinks. That editor rejected your pitch a few weeks ago, and she was right to do so. Why don’t you have more downloads for your podcast if your writing is so special?” No, no, no. I have awards (some with cash prizes) on my resume that prove I don’t stink as bad as the negative voice claims I do, I’m a self-taught novelist, and my podcast is a brand I created and am continuing to grow. Now that I have more time to focus on the projects I love, I plan to kick that voice to the curb more and more. 

What have you been doing during the holidays? I hope you’ve been granted a glorious block of time to work on what brings you joy, and get re-energized for the New Year! 

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer who also produces the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas.
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Trying Something New for the New Year

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Today is Oldest Junior’s Hall’s birthday. And I can’t remember the last time we celebrated his birthday on the actual date. But there was a time when that would have been unthinkable. 

You see, my oldest brother also has a December birthday, on the 21st. Throughout my childhood, we never celebrated his birthday on the 21st. Instead, he’d get mixed in with the Christmas celebration and though I don’t know how he felt about that situation, it really bothered me. I mean, how do you compete with the baby Jesus? (Hint: You don’t.) So when my own son was born just a few days AFTER Christmas, I vowed that I would always celebrate his birthday on that day, in a separate and meaningful way. 

For a few years, I did. But once he started school, it was difficult to get friends together during the holiday break so we’d celebrate his birthday a few weeks before or after Christmas. It was still a totally separate celebration; there would be no poinsettia plates or reindeer games. As he grew older and birthday parties were so done, we’d go out to eat or celebrate at home, always on the 28th. And despite the fact that a gallon of candy cane ice cream or a half-eaten buche de Noel was there for the celebrating, I’d insist on getting a regular birthday cake, topping it off with chocolate or vanilla ice cream. I wanted him to feel special, not a Christmas hanger-on. 

But then he went off to college and he wanted to spend winter break with friends. So before you could say, “But I made a vow!” he’d be asking for his birthday presents Christmas night. He didn’t even need a cake, he was stuffed from all the pecan pie. 


Or not so fine; it bothered me. I wanted to celebrate all that was unique and wonderful about this child on his special day, as I’d so religiously done for eighteen years. But eventually I realized that it had only mattered to me, not to him. I’d resisted for years a change which would have taken a bit of stress off the holidays only because I’d made up my mind to stick to some crazy promise I’d made. A resolution, if you will, that was no longer practical, and hadn’t been since he became a teenager.

Bet you can guess where this is going...

This year, rather than considering new goals and resolutions, I’d like to challenge you to review all those writing resolutions you’ve made and kept because you always have done so. You know what I mean, the goals you make year-in and year-out without thinking twice. 

And not just you. I’m taking my own advice. I get stuck following the same old To Do list every year because…well, it’s easier than doing all that extra thinking. Like, “Is this practice helping me become a better writer or have I just got into the habit of doing it?” Or “Do I set up this goal every year because it’s producing results or has it outlived its usefulness?”

It can take a while for me to make a change—and I won’t change what works!—but I’m ready to break tired habits and shake things up with new approaches. After all, the whole Birthday Boy thing turned out pretty swell and everybody’s happy. 

Be happy, y’all, making those New Year resolutions! And may all your writing dreams come true in 2023!

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Interview With Rachel Singh, Summer 2022 Flash Fiction Runner-Up

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

I'm excited to interview Rachel Singh, one of our runners-up in our Summer 2022 Flash Fiction contest. Before you read our interview, make sure you read her story Cosmos then come on back.

First, here's a bit about Rachel:

Rachel Singh is a writer who grew up in Florida and now lives in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from Emory University in 2020 with a BA in English & Creative Writing. She has written blog posts for The Atlanta History Center and news articles for Paste Magazine, and her fiction work has been published by WOW! and Still Point Arts Quarterly. More of her creative projects can be found on her website, rachelsingh26.wixsite.com/website, and you can also connect with her on Instagram at @rachelsinghsong. She is currently at work on a collection of short stories.

---- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: Congratulations on winning runner-up in our Summer 2022 Flash Fiction contest! You captured the rise and fall of a friendship perfectly in your story. What inspired this idea? 

Rachel: I started out with the contrasting definitions of the title word, “cosmos”—how this word can refer to a type of flower but also the stars, and how dissimilar these things are while sharing the same name. This led me to think about a bond in which I could parallel that relationship of stark similarities and differences, and I decided to project it onto a childhood friendship. I feel the relationships formed with people you grow up with are so weighted by all the things we don’t yet understand about ourselves, particularly in the case of this story, self-image, and cultural identity. 

WOW: What an interesting insight that really makes me think, actually. The themes that jumped out to me in this story were self-acceptance, identity, and social perception, especially when growing up. Were those the themes you intended to capture in this story? And do you commonly write along those topics? 

Rachel: These are exactly the themes that I was attempting to capture, so I am glad that it worked out! Previously, I have found discussing my identity in my writing was too difficult, but as I’ve gotten older, I have realized that these conversations matter most to me, and perhaps that was why it was harder to pin them down. Lately, I have started to incorporate storylines related to my relationship with my heritage into my work. 

WOW: I love how our writing changes as we get older. I saw you graduated from Emory University with a degree in English and Creative Writing. What lessons did you take away from creative writing courses that still remain with you? 

Rachel: I feel that I learned a lot about how to maintain writing as a vocation from my professors. Doing warm-ups, giving yourself writing prompts, and just keeping a journal are exercises I’ve taken from my writing courses to challenge myself creatively and keep writing as a daily habit. I feel that workshopping also made me more in tune with what is excess and what is essential to the story while editing. Most importantly, my professors stressed how the structure of workshop won’t be there forever, and it is the continuous commitment and practice of writing that really matters. 

WOW: Yes! Commitment means so much when it comes to writing. I'm so glad to see you with us again! What, if anything, has changed about you and your relationship with writing since we last spoke to you

Rachel: I am so glad to be back! I think that having my work published by WOW! expanded my confidence as a writer and has encouraged me to experiment with flash fiction more, which I was always intimidated by previously. I also believe that I have started to ask tougher questions of myself when writing, sending myself back into childhood and considering how certain experiences shaped me. I am so grateful for the opportunities that WOW! provides for creative output. 

WOW: Those are the kind of questions that help us evolve as a writer! You say in your bio you are working on a collection of short stories. How is that going? 

Rachel: Some days are more productive than others, but it is exciting to be working on stories that are in conversation with each other rather than a stand-alone piece. I would like for the themes to expound upon ones featured in “Cosmos,” and feature narrators that are grappling with similar struggles of perception as women of color in a world where we are constantly contorted by social and aesthetic expectations. What is most exciting about this project to me is the ability to ask recurring questions within each story, but present different characters who confront the same issues in myriad ways.

WOW: I can't wait to see your collection come out. Congratulations again and please do keep in touch!
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The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, December 26, 2022


I'm so excited to announce a blog tour for The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell. Continue on to find out more about this charming children's book, read an interview with the author, and enter to win a copy of the book.

First, here's a bit about the book:

Discover the magic in simple moments when a child peers in the mirror to unintentionally come upon his smile, where kittens nap in boots, fairy hugs feel good, mice delight in reading books, and January snowflakes taste yummy.

Twenty whimsical poems warm the heart and inspire cheer; a collection enticing both the young and seasoned reader to explore the enchantment of the wonderful world of poetry.

Publisher: Handersen Publishing
ISBN: 1647030757
ISBN-13: 978-1647030759
Print Pages: 28 Pages

Purchase a copy of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

About the Author, Raven Howell

Raven Howell writes stories and poetry for children. Having published several award-winning picture books, she enjoys sharing her love of literature by visiting classrooms and libraries. Raven is Creative & Publishing Advisor for Red Clover Reader, served as Poetry Director for Monster Magnificent, and writes The Book Bug column for Story Monsters Ink magazine. Her poems are found in children’s magazines such as Ladybug, Spider, Highlights for Children, Humpty Dumpty, and Hello Magazine. She’s an editor, and collaborating author for Reading is Fundamental SoCal.

When not writing, Raven enjoys sunshine and the beach, spending time with her family, hiking, laughing, reading, goofing around with artwork, and inventing new recipes.

You can find her on: 

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First of all, congrats on your book The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes! In this book, your poetry has a beautiful balance of being poignant yet simple and easy to understand. How do you manage to achieve that balance? 

Raven: That delicate line of poetry (for children) being poignant and yet simplified is the key to captivating the young reader. First, when composing, the poet must be willing to cut out all excess, and that inevitably includes tons of editing. Importantly, you need your “gist,” the theme/thought you’re attempting to share, to take center stage even if you dance around it a little. But we’re not talking about a long waltz, this is a short disco dance if you’re writing for children.

WOW: That's a wonderful description of how you achieve that balance you do so well. Why does writing and reading poetry capture you?

Raven: During my childhood, I was exposed to poetry on a regular basis. My father was a published poet and was known for his spoken word and storytelling prowess to many here in the States, in Canada and in Eastern Europe. He would see things through a poet’s eye, and share the simple, enchanting wonders that surround us in our daily lives. A good poem has that magical “capture.” 

As far back as I can remember, I always enjoyed writing and playing with words. Poetry was a natural path for me. 

WOW: I'm sure he would be so proud of your work! The art in this book is incredible, and honestly, there were a few pages I would have loved to get framed. Who did the art? And did you work with them on it at all? 

Raven: I loved collaborating with illustrator Naz Tarcan on The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes. Originally, I noticed her artwork on LinkedIn. Her illustrations are brimming with originality, smart, subtle use of colors and tones, and whimsy. I immediately thought to myself how wonderful it would be if we could get her on board to illustrate the book. I got lucky when she agreed! 

Nazli lives in Belgium, and has a background in drawing, photography and even working with the circus! Fun! 

WOW: That's phenomenal! Who is your publisher and how did you come to work with them? 

Raven: This is my second book published by Handersen Publishing. My first book with them, So You Want a Puppy, is still a favorite when I attend book fairs. My editor is a poetry fan so I couldn’t be happier to work with a team who is familiar with the ins and outs of children’s poetry and getting it into readers’ hands.” 

WOW: I loved reading on your website that you wrote greeting cards! Did this type of writing help you improve your craft? If so, how? 

Raven: You know, writing for greetings cards really did prepare me for my next step - writing verse for children’s magazines. Kids’ magazines need short poems with a concise idea - similar to what is called for when writing greeting cards. This was more than two decades ago, but to this day, I still write poetry for the Cricket, Highlights and School magazines. From that point though, many years ago, I had already written so many poems and stories for children that I became determined to publish children’s books as well. 

WOW: What an amazing transformation that was! What are you working on now that you can tell us about? 

Raven: I have a book titled A Colorful Beginning with Argentinian illustrator Carina Povarchik, releasing end of 2022. Preschoolers and elementary school classes are already getting to hear it during story time. It shares first day of school jitters as well as teaching colors. My first counting book, Mattison Mouse, will be available in May 2023 and my first early reader, The Charms of U.S. Farms is being published around the same time. 

I write The Book Bug column for Story Monsters Ink magazine and also manage their Kids Corner, where we’re publishing fantastic arts and crafts, activities, brain teasers, puzzles, “draw this” printouts, and experiments for students of all ages. I’m looking forward to the next year because I have super fun features in the works! 

From my manuscript working files, I’m excited about finishing a book about words – how words make us feel, how sometimes we need to use many of them, sometimes none at all, how some are silly, some are serious and so forth. Having said that, and yes, wanting to get around to finishing my story, my advice to those who are considering becoming writers remains: enjoy the journey, every single step. Some days will seem to stagger and feel unproductive, some days will bloom into weeks of inspiration. It’s all good. Hang in there and celebrate your creativity!

WOW: I love hearing about everything you are working on and thank you for such inspirational advice. Best of luck to you and enjoy the tour!

The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes Blog Tour

--- Blog Tour Calendar

December 26th @ The Muffin
Join us at our WOW! blog today, The Muffin, for the blog tour launch of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell. You can read an interview with the author and have a chance to win a copy of the book for yourself.

December 28th @ Strength 4 Spouses
Join Wendi as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell.

December 28th @ Reading Girl Reviews
Gina reviews Raven Howell's book The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes

December 29th @ The Faerie Review
Visit Lily as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell.

December 30th @ Anthony Avina's Blog
Join Anthony as he features a guest post by author Raven Howell featuring a beginner's guide to writing poetry.

January 1st @ Page Peeks
Visit Jeanne's book review column as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

January 2nd @ Mother Daughter Book Club
Join Cindy as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

January 4th @ AJ Kormon's Blog
Join AJ as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

January 6th @ Knotty Needle
Visit Judy as she shares her insights into Raven Howell's book The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

January 8th @ Shoe's Seeds & Stories
Join Linda as she features a guest post by author Ravne Howell about why we love gnomes so much.

January 10th @ Mother Daughter Book Club
Visit Cindy's blog again for a guest post by Raven Howell about arts and crafts, making fun gnomes for all ages.

January 12th @ Anthony Avina's Blog
Visit Anthony's blog as he reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell. 

January 12th @ The Mommies Reviews
Visit Glenda's blog today to read her review of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell. You'll also have a chance to win a book copy too!

January 16th @ Word Magic
Visit Fiona's blog as she shares author Raven Howell's insights about the impact on children through author visits to schools or libraries.

January 15th @ Shoe's Seeds & Stories
Linda treats us to her review of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell.

January 17th @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Lisa interviews Raven Howell about her book The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

January 18th @ Bev A Baird's Blog
Join Bev as she features a guest post by author Raven Howell about her lifelong journey as a poet and how she made it happen. 

January 20th @ Bev A Baird's Blog
Come by Bev's blog again as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes. A must-read children's book you'll love!

January 20th @ Editor 911
Margo treats us to her review of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

January 22nd @ World of My Imagination
Nicole shares her thoughts about The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

January 23rd @ A Storybook World
Visit Deirdra's blog and read a guest post by Raven Howell about gnome fashion and how the fairy realm influences fashion today.

January 25th @ Carole Writes
Visit Carole's blog for her review of 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

January 27th @ Editor 911
Come by Margo's blog again and read Raven Howell's guest post featuring yummy treats with a gnome theme.

January 28th @ Lisa's Reading
Join Lisa as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes. You also have the chance to win a copy of the book too!

January 29th @ Jill Sheets' Blog
Visit Jill's blog as she interviews author Raven Howell about her writing journey and her experience as an author.

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

Enter to win a copy of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends January 8th at 11:59 p.m. CT. We will randomly choose one winner and announce in the Rafflecopter widget the following day and follow up by email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Should You Use Chicago Style or AP Style for Book Manuscripts?

Friday, December 23, 2022
(Image by pikisuperstar)

By Bobbie Christmas

Q: I am writing a non-fiction book about basketball teams, and my editor and I are confused about the use of numbers in the book. I have been going by The Chicago Manual of Style, but he is a former sportswriter and thinks the AP Style should apply. 

The key Chicago rule is that numbers from zero to one hundred should be spelled out and 101 and above should be expressed in numerals. The AP Style says to spell out single digits and use numerals for double-digit numbers. The first question is which style manual applies to non-fiction books?

Here are some more specific questions: 

1. We both think that all game scores should be shown in numbers, e.g. 8-5, 34-21, 97-63. 112-86. I searched the Chicago style manual in vain for an exception. Are we correct on this point?

2. The next question applies to a single score in a sentence, e.g. “Smith was the Rams’ leading scorer with eighteen points.” My editor thinks it should be expressed as “18” points, since it would follow AP style. Another example would be “The Rams scored a record thirty-two points in the third period.”

3. Another question is about a player’s height: is he six-four, six-foot-four, 6-4, 6-foot-4, 6’-4” or some other variation? I saw one example that showed it as “five-foot-ten guard” (i.e. used as an adjective) but as “The` Rams’ star forward was six-feet-five inches tall,” I have looked in other sports books and seen all these variations.

4. The last question is about time. Is it, “the 7:00 game” or “the seven o-clock game”? Or is it “With “a minute and twenty-six seconds on the clock” or “With 1:26 remaining”? I tried emailing the Chicago people several weeks ago and got nothing. I tried calling and a very nice young man explained that the help desk handles only technical questions, not editorial inquiries.

A: First off, I’d like to mention that Chicago style spells the word nonfiction without a hyphen, rather than non-fiction.

Next, when The Chicago Manual of Style does not address a specific issue, it is left up to the publisher, and consistency becomes the guide. That said, Chicago style does address the questions you asked, and Chicago style is the style primarily used in books. AP style is more often used for newspapers and some magazines. I don’t recommend using a combination of the two.

As for the first question, when giving scores, use numerals; however, according to Chicago style, an en dash, not a hyphen, should separate the numbers, because the en dash will signify the word “to.” The en dash is slightly longer than a hyphen and can be found in Microsoft Word after you go to “insert” then “symbols” and then “special characters.” Example: The Scorpions won, and the game ended with a score of 2–6. 

Before I respond to question number two, note that Chicago style also differs from the style we see in newspapers and magazines when it comes to the use of possessive proper nouns. The general CMOS rule is to add and apostrophe s to create a possessive noun, even with proper nouns, and including most names of any length ending in sibilants (s or sh sounds). For that reason, the possessive of Rams in Chicago style is Rams’s.

When referring to single numbers in a sentence, as shown in your example, write out numbers that don’t exceed one hundred. Example: Smith was the Rams’s leading scorer, with eighteen points.

For question three, write out heights when they are part of a sentence, not in a list or a chart. The use of “foot” or “feet” depends on the use in a sentence and whether the word is an adjective or a noun. Example: A five-foot-ten-inch guard went up against a forward who was six feet, five inches tall.

As to question number four, times of day in even, half, and quarter hours are usually spelled out in text. More exact times are written as numerals. Examples: The game was supposed to start at seven o’clock. Because of rain, the game didn’t start until 8:22. Jordan Hufstedler scored the final touchdown with a minute and twenty-two seconds left on the clock.

Before you proceed any further, you’ll have to inform the former sportswriter that he was correct in using AP style when he wrote for newspapers and magazines, but you’re correct in adhering to Chicago style when writing books.


Bobbie Christmas is a book editor, author of Write In Style: Use Your Computer to Improve Your Writing, and owner of Zebra Communications. She will answer your questions too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com or BZebra@aol.com. Read Bobbie’s Zebra Communications blog at https://www.zebraeditor.com/blog/.
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Give Yourself 5 Gifts This Christmas

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Christmas is just days away so you may be looking at that title and thinking, “No! No more shopping! I don’t have the time/money/energy.” The good news is that these are all free and they are all things that we periodically need to be reminded to give ourselves. 

Call Yourself a Writer 

Haven’t sold anything yet?  It doesn't matter.  Call yourself a writer.  Or maybe comments from someone on your writing have left you really shaken. Don't give that person more free time in your head.  Shake them off!  You are a writer. Own it. But of course once you own it you are going to need to . . . 

Take Time to Write 

Some people believe you need to write every day. Some people get super specific. You need to write for 10 minutes, 2 hours or 400 words a day. Whatever. That’s not for me to say. I write most days, but you need to do you. But if you’re calling yourself a writer you need to write. Come on, you know you want to and it will make you a happier writer.   

Make Time to Write 

Taking time to write may mean making time to write. What is getting in your way?  Look for something that is a negative in your life and get rid of it.  This week, I got caught up in a broo-ha-ha in an organization I belong to. It ended with someone getting super snippy with me. I could have gone through the threads and proven I was right, but the reality was that I’m on deadline. I can do one or the other. I chose writing. Choose your writing by giving up something that’s an energy suck. The energy suck won't make you happy but writing will.

Write What You Love 

Speaking of energy sucks, not much is worse than writing something that you don’t like but you think will sell. I have a friend who is always suggesting that I write romances. I’ve quit saying that I don’t read romance because she’s pointed out that I read her books. Whatever. I read them because they are about cats. The point is that I don’t love romance novels. I don’t even like 99.9% of them. That would be a horrible way to spend my precious writing time. Fantasy? Mystery? Science fiction? Much better choices for me. You too need to write what you love. You’ll be happier. 

Get Rid of that Negative Voice 

Some of us suffer from a hateful inner critic. Some of us have a nasty outer critic, someone that we simply cannot let read our work. This may be the toughest thing to free yourself of, but the best thing for this is a writer’s support group. It may be a critique group. It may be book club. It may be a group of writers who are your friends. When a negative voice gets you down, turn to these people and let them know. Nothing is better than a strong group of writing women to cheer you on. 

This holiday season, give yourself things to make the writer in you happy. After all, we all deserve a very Merry Christmas. 


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 January 2, 2023).  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 January 2, 2023) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins January 2, 2023). 
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Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Betsey’s Bio:

Elizabeth (Betsey) Field has had a rewarding career as a speech/language pathologist and autism consultant for over forty years. She is the author of Building Communication and Independence for Children Across the Autism Spectrum: Strategies to Address Minimal Language, Echolalia, and Independence (2021, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London). She does conference and webinar presentations on autism topics and is working on a creative nonfiction book about a child with autism and OCD.

If you haven't done so already, check out Betsey's story "Echolalia" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: What was the inspiration for Echolalia?  

Betsey: I wanted to share a bit of these characters’ challenges, hopes, and triumphs with others on the same path and with those unfamiliar with echolalia. In my career as a speech language pathologist, I’ve known many autistic children who communicate like Jeremy and their very concerned mothers. Having used in therapy the same intervention that I describe in the story, I knew from experience what the outcome could be.

WOW:  I have to admit that I've observed echolalia but didn't even know it had a  name.  This story is concise but packed with information.  What advice do you have for writers who may be new to flash and having trouble limiting their word count?

BetseyRemember that there are different lengths of flash fiction and if one contest’s word quota doesn’t work, another might. I first submitted a 100-word version of “Echolalia” to a contest, and it got no recognition. Shifting to the 750-word option and using the very helpful critiques from WOW! Women on Writing was more successful. And a 300-word version was short-listed in Ireland’s Fish Publishing flash fiction contest. Before submitting, I received feedback from my local writing group, which helped with copy editing and clarifying what’s essential and what could be cut. Readers are a tremendous help, and your own editing should consider whether each word and sentence moves the story forward.

WOW:  You write about a situation in which many parents feel despair.  Yet you end your story on a note of hope.  Can you explain how to do this while maintaining realism in your story situation?

Betsey: I have no magic formula for this, but I’m glad you saw it that way. This story was only a small step away from non-fiction. Many parents do feel despair when learning of their child’s autism diagnosis, and Jody’s life was further impacted by the loss of her husband, but autistic children do make progress, parent involvement is crucial, and there is good reason for hope.

WOW: What else are you currently working on?  

Betsey: I am writing a second book, this one a work of creative nonfiction, about my adventures with an autistic child/teen with obsessive compulsive disorder and an extreme aversion to authority. Now an adult, he is collaborating with me on several chapters. The title will probably be “Meet Me Where I Am: Navigating the Intersection of Autism and OCD.”  I’m proud to say that the first chapter of this book, “Speech and the Postmaster,” earned an honorable mention in this year’s WOW! Women on Writing fourth quarter creative nonfiction essay contest.

WOW:  How exciting to be working with this particular co-author!  What advice do you have for writers who are new to the craft in 2023?  

Betsey: Whether you are writing as a hobby or starting a career, just do it. I have been writing progress and consultation reports all my life, but only published my first book (“Building Communication and Independence for Children Across the Autism Spectrum: Strategies to Address Minimal Language, Echolalia and Behavior”) in 2021. Now, I find that I am thinking about the next project before I finish the one I’m working on. I also recommend contests like those at WOW! Women on Writing that offer the option of critiques as a way to learn and improve.


WOW:  Thank you so much for sharing your writing process as well as your encouraging words.  I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that I will be looking out for more of your work.

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Witching Moon by K.E. Bonner: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, December 19, 2022

We're excited to announce the blog tour for Witching Moon by K.E. Bonner. Join us as we share more about this novel, interview the author, and give away a copy of the book. This book is perfect for tweens, teens, and readers who enjoy historical fantasy. 

Before we interview the author, here's a bit more about the book:

Every once in an eon, when the Earth eclipses the moon on a winter solstice, an immortal is born under a witching moon. Anne has always had the strangest feelings—memories she couldn’t place; strangers she inexplicably yearned for. After she rescues the enigmatic Phillip from a shipwreck, her comfortable life on the island of Cusabo is shattered, and the mystery of her destiny starts to fall into place. Anne leaves behind the life she’s always known and sets out with Phillip on an arduous journey to Amaranth, where her ancient family awaits her. But the path is dark and daunting, and Anne’s powers have only just begun to manifest.

Publisher: Belle Isle Books
ISBN-10: 1947860925
ISBN-13: 978-1947860926
Print Length: 298 pages

You can purchase a copy of Witching Moon on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org. You can also add Witching Moon to your Goodreads reading list.  

About the Author, K.E. Bonner 

K. E. Bonner, author of Witching Moon, was always the first kid to sit down during a spelling bee. It wasn’t until she was an adult that she was diagnosed with dyslexia, which explained why she always had to study three times harder than her peers. Being dyslexic taught her perseverance and kindness, her two favorite attributes. She lives in Georgia with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. When not writing, she loves to read, swim, explore new places, and meet fascinating people. If you have a dog, she would love to scratch behind its ears and tell it what a good pup it is. 

Learn more about K.E. Bonner on her website or follow her on Instagram @kebonnerwrites. 

---- Interview by Michelle Cornish 

WOW: Congratulations on your book! I enjoyed reading about Anne and her family, and I especially enjoyed the time period. Witching Moon is set in the late 1800s during the American Civil War. What type of research did you do in order to write a story set during this time period?

KE: Growing up in South Carolina I was surrounded by Revolutionary War and Civil War history. It wasn't uncommon to go to a friend's house and see a saber or rifle that their great-grandpappy had carried into battle. Most everyone's grandparents told tales of the hard times that followed the war, so you could say I was raised on Civil War history. I did read several Civil War history books, and watched Ken Burns' excellent documentary on the Civil War, where I learned about Sherman's neckties and slave catchers. History has always been my favorite subject because it is story based, and I am a sucker for a good story.

WOW: History is full of stories, for sure. Writing a novel can be a time consuming endeavor. How do you make time to write and how do you motivate yourself to keep going?

KE: It took me over ten years to write Witching Moon. During that time my husband's business went bankrupt, we lost our home to foreclosure, my husband went into congestive heart failure, had open heart surgery, and almost died. We raised two sons, I worked fifty plus hours a week as an anesthetist, and a thousand other things happened. Although I didn't begin writing as a means to escape the stress, looking back on it, I believe that I persisted in writing to escape to another world that I had some control over. I designated every Sunday as my writing day. I got up early, made my coffee, and decamped to my basement office to write, read, and dream. During that crazy time I often took a month or two off from writing because life got too hectic, but I always went back to my book. Writing keeps me sane, it helps me put life into perspective.

WOW: What an amazing journey you've been on. You certainly went through a lot during the time you were writing Witching Moon! What is your top writing advice for aspiring authors?>

KE: Quite simply, the more you read and write, the better you get. Talent and inspiration will only get you so far, developing a solid routine of putting your butt in a chair and writing everyday is the only way to get better. Focus on the craft of writing: voice, dialogue, pacing, world building, structure, and characterization.

WOW: Sounds like consistency is the key to a solid writing routine. Do you consider yourself a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in-between? What is your writing process like?

KE: I wish I were a plotter, and to some degree I am, but once I start writing the story takes on a life of its own and I just become the typist; that's magical realism at work. I have a loose plot figured out in my head, and I jot down notes in a notebook, but the story always changes and new characters appear out of nowhere, so I try to be nimble. I'm more of a pantser, but wish I were a plotter. I'm the person who tries to build the Lego castle without the instructions. 

WOW: Speaking of magical realism, this plays a big part in your story. What was your inspiration for this? 

KE: I'm a big believer in everyday magic. When you're in the habit of creating art, you begin to see that there are no coincidences, and that enchantments surround us. Ideas are magical. When an idea presents itself to me I get lit up; my spine tingles, my heart races, and I can become breathless and dizzy. Have you ever felt that tingle down your spine when you hear an amazing piece of music, or have that buzz of instant connection upon meeting someone? That is magic working into your life. 

WOW: Yes, I love it when those spine tingles happen! Which authors or favorite books inspire your writing? 

KE: Pat Conroy is my favorite southern writer. His novel, The Water is Wide is inspiring. I also love Rick Bragg, Flannery O'Conner, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King and George Orwell. Animal Farm is my hands down, absolute favorite book. I love the classics, and am a Jane Austin fangirl. Where The Wild Things Are is my favorite children's book. Everything I read seeps into my writing in some way.

WOW: What was your favorite genre to read when you were growing up and why? 

KE: Even though I was a slow reader, I was a voracious one. I loved Judy Blume, I still love Judy Blume. My favorite genre was anything with a coming of age theme, but really I just read whatever caught my eye: Mad magazine, Cracked magazine, Rolling Stone, Jane Eyre, The Chocolate War. 

WOW: I love that! Do you have a favorite writing spot? Tell us about it and why you love it so much.

KE: I am a big fan of Rockvale Writer's Colony in College Grove, Tennessee. At home I move between the kitchen table, my desk, and the couch. I love to prop my feet up and write semi-reclined. 

WOW: Sounds wonderful. Witching Moon is full of so many themes like leaving home, coming of age, religion, the Underground Railroad, and the Cusabo Indian Tribe (just to name a few). Is this something you thought about before you started writing, and how did you balance the themes throughout the story? 

KE: Most of the themes appeared as I was telling the story. I knew I wanted to write a coming of age story, but as the other themes began to show themselves, I would go back and flesh them out as I edited my work. In the end, I made a list of all the themes that had sprung up, and made sure that they threaded nicely throughout the story. For instance, I first read about the Cusabo Indian Tribe of South Carolina on a placard when my family visited Ellis Island. The Cusabo people were living along coastal South Carolina when European explorers showed up. I had to go all the way to Ellis Island to discover the Cusabo Indians. That little spark of magic brought Mama Jane and Ruth into Witching Moon, and gave me the name of the island where Anne was raised. 

WOW: You were diagnosed with dyslexia as an adult. How has this journey impacted your experiences as an author? 
KE: Dyslexia has taught me persistence. For many years I'd known that I had to study three times as hard as my peers to get the same grades. I couldn't cram for an exam, I had to begin studying a few days out. Maybe that is why I don't enjoy plotting a book. I love when ideas spill out of my head and land on the page. Having dyslexia allows me to see things from different angles, so in many ways it opens me up to new possibilities, which is a good thing. 

WOW: Persistence and the ability to see things from different angles certainly are great skills to have as a writer. Will we be seeing more from Anne and her friends? Can you share what you are working on next? 

KE: I do want to write a follow up book for Anne. Because immortal septs fight each other under the guise of mortal wars, the next Witching Moon book will be set during WWI. I have it loosely outlined.

Right now I am working on a book about Daufuskie Island, South Carolina. In the early 1900s, before there were child labor laws, children were sent there to work in the seafood industry. Daufuskie has a rich history: Black Beard the pirate sailed the waters around the island, some say the island is haunted, and it is part of the Gullah Geechee cultural area. My next book is a tale of survival about two children who are sent to work on the island during oyster season. 

WOW: We will certainly be watching for those stories! Thank you so much for joining us today. All the best to you! 

Witching Moon Blog Tour

---- Blog Tour Calendar

December 19th @ The Muffin
Join WOW as we celebrate the launch of K.E. Bonner's blog tour of Witching Moon. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book!

December 20th @ Mindy McGinnis’s blog
Stop by Mindy’s blog to read “Release the Idea of Getting Rich or Published and Focus on Your Craft.” by K.E. Bonner

December 21st @ All the Ups and Downs
Join Heather as she spotlights Witching Moon. Enter to win a copy of the book!

December 23rd @ Michelle Cornish’s blog
Visit Michelle’s blog to read her review of Witching Moon.

December 24th @ A Storybook World
Join Deirdra as she features a spotlight of Witching Moon.

December 27th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews blog
Join Lisa for an interview with K.E. Bonner.

December 28th @ Author Anthony Avina’s blog
Join us today for author Anthony Avina’s review of Witching Moon.

December 29th @ Rockin’ Book Reviews
Join us as Lu Ann reviews Witching Moon. Stop by and enter to win a copy of the book!

December 30th @ Author Anthony Avina’s blog
Revisit author Anthony Avina’s blog to read “The Best Writing Advice I Received” by K.E. Bonner. 

January 4th @ Bev Baird’s blog
Join us on Bev’s blog as she reviews Witching Moon.

January 5th @ The Knotty Needle
Stop by for Judy’s review of Witching Moon.

January 6th @ Bev Baird’s blog
Meet us back at Bev’s blog for “Ideas are Everywhere” a guest post by K.E. Bonner.

January 6th @ Look to the Western Sky
Join Margo as she reviews Witching Moon by K.E. Bonner.

January 7th @ Chapter Break
Visit Julie's blog where she interviews author K.E. Bonner about her book Witching Moon.

January 9th @ Sue Edwards’s blog
Visit Sue’s blog to read “Magical Realism Surrounds Us” by K.E. Bonner.

January 10th @ Celtic Lady's Reviews
Visit Kathleen's blog and read her review of Witching Moon by K.E. Bonner.

January 10th @ World of My Imagination
Stop by Nicole's blog where K.E. Bonner is a guest for "Three Things on a Saturday Night."

January 12th @ Life According to Jamie
Join us as Jamie reviews Witching Moon

January 14th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion
Join Linda as she interviews author K.E. Bonner.

January 15th @ Fiona Ingram’s author blog
Stop by Fiona’s blog to see her spotlight feature of Witching Moon

January 16th @ the Freeing the Butterfly blog
Visit Freeing the Butterfly to read “Life is Short, Do What You Love” by K.E. Bonner.

January 18th @ Jill Sheets’s blog
Stop by Jill’s blog to read her interview with K.E. Bonner.

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

Enter to win a copy of Witching Moon by K.E. Bonner! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends January 1st at 11:59 CT. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget the next day and follow up via email. Good luck!

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Interview with Jennifer Tribe, Runner Up in the WOW! Q4 2022 Essay Contest

Sunday, December 18, 2022


Jennifer Tribe lives and writes in Southern California. She is an educator and has taught elementary school, English as a Second Language to adults and most recently, online kindergarten in urban Los Angeles County. She and her husband have two adult sons with special needs. She is an avid reader and credits Raymond Carver with her love for the short story. She started writing years ago for herself. Through her creative non-fiction and flash fiction, Jennifer explores how love, pain and recovery are seamlessly interlinked. Through personal experience she hopes to shed light on the storied lives of families touched by the lifelong struggle of mental illness. She decided to share her journey of loss, sorrow and the desire to find meaning with a wider audience. 

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

WOW: Welcome, Jennifer, and congratulations! Writing about mental illness, especially when it involves a loved one, is such a difficult and personal topic. What do you hope readers can take away from “Set Apart?” 

Jennifer: I hope that “Set Apart” sheds light on the anguish and loss that a parent and/or family member experiences as they watch their loved one change and suffer due to a mental illness. The idea that a young adult child can been transformed, or even disappear due to a mental illness, and that loved ones must now work to accept and embrace this new version of the person, fuels my writing. The grief involved is complicated and ongoing. Unfortunately, the shame and stigma surrounding mental illness causes families to struggle alone. As a parent, I am grieving the losses of the past and the future. On a different level, mental illness and self - medicating (addiction) are often interlaced. Awareness of this is crucial, as research has shown that both of these conditions are brain disorders and need treatment. With the right supports in place, however, there is hope and discovery in the midst of this journey. 

WOW: Thank you for doing your part in helping voice what it's like to love and help care for  someone living with mental illness. It's a difficult topic, but an important one! You also express yourself creatively through flash fiction. What types of subjects do you like to write in that form?

Jennifer: I am inspired to write about significant, life-changing moments that I experience or observe. I am drawn to writing about people as they are marginalized, over-looked or misunderstood due to a variety of reasons – disabilities, poverty, circumstance… Their stories, and the obstacles they overcome, are filled with hope and resolve. I strive to find the meaning and beauty in the small interactions of life. 

WOW: As we all know, reading is an important part of studying the craft of writing. Do you prefer reading fiction or nonfiction? Who are some of your favorite authors? 

Jennifer: I love short stories. The short story turned me into a true reader. In a span of minutes, a good story can transport you to another world causing a myriad of emotions. I am drawn to literary fiction and historical fiction as it provides not only entertainment, but a glimpse into another’s deepest thoughts as well as our complicated and ever-changing humanity. Some of my favorite authors include Raymond Carver, Ann Patchett, Jhumpa Lahiri and Amor Towles. 

WOW: You are also an educator. What do you love most about teaching? How has the profession helped you with developing a writing schedule? 

Jennifer: I love teaching as it is where I connect with another person. Through my students, children and adults, I have seen a resilience and a love of life in spite of facing serious challenges such as learning disabilities and/or various forms of oppression. They are my heroes. As a teacher, it is important to be prepared and have an open mind. If a particular strategy is not working, I need to try something new. It is the same with my writing. If I am struggling to write daily, or reach a certain personal writing goal, I need to keep an open mind and be willing to try something different. 

WOW: Great advice on recognizing when it's best to try something new. Do you have any tips for writers hoping to enter either WOW’s CNF contest? 

Jennifer: I encourage writers who are considering entering WOW’s Creative Non-Fictions (CNF) or Flash Fiction contests to just do it. Make it a goal for yourself. I believe one only gains from putting work out there. The act itself is a personal achievement. I have repeatedly entered WOW’s CNF and Flash Fiction Contests. I feel vulnerable each time, but am surprised at how much I learn from the experience. I recommend purchasing a critique as the information gleaned is enlightening and valuable. It is a fantastic opportunity to have another writer read and share their insights about your writing.

WOW: Thank you for being so open and candid with us today. Good luck in all your future writing endeavors and we look forward to reading more of your work!
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My Interesting Lesson in Creative Patience

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

For my birthday a week or so ago, I asked my family for a miniature DIY dollhouse shop that you see pictured above. I am in love with dollhouses and follow a ton of them on Instagram. So, getting to try this myself, was going to be a fun treat.

Except, when I opened it, this was more than simply arranging little pieces of furniture or puzzle pieces that snap together. It was pieces of furniture I'd be putting together myself. There are even instructions later on for me to get out my drill. (Me? Having a drill?)

I couldn't wait! 

Over this past week, I've made some time for my little dollhouse bakery. And I'm proud to say I've put together four pieces of furniture. You can see photos of them below:

It's been quite the process, actually. Last night, I had to carefully pull apart glued-together pieces because I had followed the instructions wrong. At one point, as I was nearing the ending stage of a little dresser and strategically trying to bend a golden wire that was meant to look like a small drawer handle, I realized the importance of creative patience in dollhouses and in writing.

You see, much like this dollhouse, writing takes time. It's not an overnight process. It's a day-to-day process of putting the pieces together, one step at a time. And if something needs to be undone, well it needs to be undone. Just make sure you put it together again.

Plus, you have to make time for writing. For my dollhouse shop, I haven't worked on it every day in the last week or so, but I've definitely made time for it. Last night, instead of working on various freelance projects, I put my phone and computer aside after work and worked on this instead. 

And the same needs to be done for writing too. It's easy to make excuses to not write, but truthfully you just need to make time for it. Because even if you're busy, you make time for the stuff you want to do. As I leave room in the afternoons on occasion for my little dollhouse shop, I'm reminded I can make room for writing too. 

Much like this project, though, I don't necessarily need to write every day. I think that's what trips me up (and maybe, many other people too). Maybe I'm getting caught up in this idea that if I'm not writing every day, I'm not making progress (or worse, I think I'm not a real writer). But much like this dollhouse shop, progress can be made, even if it's a bit at a time. 

So, if you are struggling with writing, make time for it. Show up when you can. Don't worry if you aren't making it a daily activity, because just by making room for it whenever you can, you are still moving forward.

But just remember, creativity takes patience.

Nicole Pyles is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. Follow her writing and book blog World of My Imagination.
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