Houdini's Fabulous Magic by Walter B. Gibson and Morris N. Young: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, February 27, 2023

If you've ever been fascinated by the mind behind some of the most famous magic tricks we've ever known, you'll love the re-release of Houdini's Fabulous Magic by Walter B. Gibson and Morris N. Young. Being released out to the public again by Young's own children, this book is perfect for people who are fascinated by Houdini's life and the mystery behind his magic tricks.

Follow along as we celebrate the launch of this book and giveaway a copy to one of our lucky readers.

But first, here's more about Houdini's Fabulous Magic:

Incredible escapes, fantastic sleight-of-hand, Houdini's most challenging performances are dramatically portrayed in Houdini's Fabulous Magic. Walter Gibson, co-author, was in close touch with Harry Houdini for a number of years before his death, and worked with the master magician in preparing material for the book. It is with the aid of Houdini's own scrapbooks and notes that this book was written.

The spectacular highlights of Houdini's career are described and explained in this book. Included are the famous escapes: escapes from a padlocked milk can filled with water; from locked jail cells; from a water-filled Chinese torture cell while suspended upside down; from packing cases weighted under water. Again, in this book, Houdini walks through a brick wall, vanishes a 10,000-pound elephant and is buried alive. Once more, Houdini and his wife Bessie mysteriously exchange places in a locked trunk—in three seconds!

And Houdini, the man, is not ignored. His impact on the world in the early years of the twentieth century was enormous. He was a public hero who, in his own way, helped sweep out the cobwebs of nineteenth-century thinking. While doing so, he distinguished himself as a patriot, writer, collector of magic, aviator, movie idol, philanthropist, and crusader against fraudulent spiritualistic practices.

This is a technical manual for magicians, complete with illustrations and diagrams, but it is also an astute analysis of the best of Houdini's magic and a readable biography of a man who turned himself into a legend. It is a book for would-be conjurers, for professional necromancers, for those curious about the methods and means of one of the most enchanting men of the previous century.

Publisher: Vine Leaves Press
ISBN-10: 0517180747
ISBN-13: 978-0517180747
Print length: 249 pages

You can purchase a copy on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop. You can also add it to your GoodReads reading list.

About the Authors

Walter B. Gibson (1897-1985)
Walter, a graduate of Colgate University, was a prolific writer, including The Shadow novels under his pen name Maxwell Grant. For a time, he was Houdini's personal secretary. Following Houdini's death, the attorney for the estate permitted Walter to examine many of Houdini's private scrapbooks and notes from which Gibson wrote Houdini's Magic and Houdini's Escapes. Houdini's scrapbooks, papers and other documents form the background for Houdini's Fabulous Magic. Also a magician, Walter toured with and wrote for magicians such as Blackstone (Sr.), Thurston and Raymond. He was a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the American Society for Psychical Research, the Magician's Guild of America and the Magician's Club of London.

Morris N. Young, M.D. (1909-2002)
Morris, a graduate of M.I.T., Harvard and Columbia University was Director of Ophthalmology at Beekman Downtown Hospital in New York City. Aside from his numerous professional memberships, he was a member of the Society of American Magicians (to which Houdini had helped him join as a young man), the International Brotherhood of Magicians and a member of the Inner Circle of the Magic Circle (London). He was a founder of the Magic Collectors Association including their publication MAGICOL. Along with his wife Chesley, he established the largest private holdings on memory and mnemonics which now resides at the University of San Marino. Along with his friend John McManus, in 1955 they established the McManus-Young Collections at the Library of Congress, The University of Texas, Austin and the University of California in Berkeley.  Morris' other book publications include Hobby Magic, Houdini on Magic (with Walter Gibson), Presto Prestige, Bibliography of Memory, How To Develop An Exceptional Memory (with Walter Gibson), The Complete Guide to Science Fair Competition (with John Stolzfus) and Radio Music Live (with John Stolzfus).

You can visit the website created by Morris N. Young's children, Charles C. Young and Cheryl L. Young: https://www.musicmagicandmore.com/

Houdini's Fabulous Magic Blog Tour

----- Blog Tour Calendar

February 27th @ The Muffin
Join us as we celebrate the launch of Houdini's Fabulous Magic. Follow along our tour and you'll have the chance to win a copy of the book too.

February 28th @ The Mommies Review
Join Glenda for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic. You'll also have the chance to win a copy of the book too!

March 1st @ Word Magic
Fiona will be featuring the book Houdini's Fabulous Magic on her blog.

March 6th @ One Writer's Journey
Join Sue for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

March 8th @ A Storybook World
Join Deirdra for her feature of Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

March 10th @ Reading is My Remedy
Join Chelsie today for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

March 12th @ Joan P. Nienhus
Joan shares her thoughts about Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

March 15th @ One Sister's Journey
Join Lisa for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic

March 20th @ My Beauty My Books
Join Nikki for her feature of an excerpt of Houdini's Fabulous Magic. You have the chance to win a copy of the book too!

March 23rd @ Knotty Needle
Join Judy for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

March 25th @ Choices
Visit Madeline's blog for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic. You also have the chance to win a copy of the book too!

March 27th @ Candid Canine
Join Chris for a review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

March 29th @ World of My Imagination
Visit Nicole's blog for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

March 30th @ Silver's Reviews
Join Elizabeth for a spotlight of Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

March 31st @ The Faeries Review
Visit Lily's blog for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic

April 2nd @ Jessica's Reading Room
Join Jessica for her review of Houdinis' Fabulous Magic. You'll also have a chance to win a copy of the book too!

April 2nd @ Coffee And Ink
Visit Jan's blog for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic

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

Enter to win a copy of Houdini's Fabulous Magic by Linda and Charlie Bloom! Fill out the Rafflecopter form by March 12th at 11:59pm CT for a chance to win. We will choose a winner randomly the next day and follow up via email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Saturday, February 25, 2023
I’m thrilled to chat with Natalie F. about her touching essay, “Libre” named as a runner up in the Q1 2023 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest. Natalie shares the inspiration behind her piece, and writerly advice for others during today’s interview. Before we get to that though, please check out Natalie’s impressive bio (below) and read through “Libre” before returning here for our fabulous interview!

Natalie’s Bio: Since moving to France eight years ago, Natalie has discovered her passion for creative writing, fallen in love with the French culture (i.e., the food and wine), married a handsome Frenchman and never looked back. 

She has several projects she’s currently focusing on but her ultimate goal is to write a memoir based on the years she spent living and working in Paris. 

One of her essays has appeared in a previous WOW! Women on Writing competition

As she steps into 2023, Natalie’s greatest ambition is to continue sharing more of her stories with the world. 

She’d love it if you followed her on Instagram: @natalie_fynn. 

Interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto 

WOW: Welcome, Natalie, and congratulations on being named as a runner up in WOW's Q1 Essay Contest! Writing something so personal has to be difficult. How did you begin writing your essay and how did your writing process develop as you wrote? 

Natalie: When I first started writing Libre, I planned to use second person when referring to the ex. In practice, this quickly made me feel very uneasy; it was too close, too intimate. Using third person felt like a much safer option because it allowed some distance between us. Although these particular events took place years ago now, it was astonishing to realize that I clearly had some unresolved issues stemming from this time that were still weighing on me. 

 By the end of the essay, however, I write about finally moving to Paris and finding a sense of independence. As I recalled experiencing this new-found distance (metaphorical and literal), I found myself naturally addressing him in second person. I still wasn’t sure at the time if I was going to keep it that way during the editing process but I knew in that moment of writing the ending that it felt like I had overcome something and I could breathe a bit better. So, I decided to keep it that way and hoped that it would resonate with the reader. 

The process of writing this essay was clearly a very cathartic experience for me! 

WOW: It’s inspiring to hear that writing Libre was cathartic for you – hopefully that will inspire others to move past what seems daunting at first. Even if the work is not published, it still has a purpose! In so many ways, that makes me think about my own journaling life and how it can be very healing. What role has journaling played in your life Natalie? 

Natalie: It was through journaling that I discovered my passion for creative writing. When I first moved to Paris, I decided to keep a journal thinking it would be fun to stumble upon and read one day in the future and reminisce about all the experiences I had in the city. But, as the first few months went by, I began to realize how much I enjoyed and appreciated recounting the events of each day in my own words. I remember there’d be times when I’d find myself in comical situations or maybe feeling like I’d been mistreated by somebody that would ignite such an intense urge within me to rush home and write about what had happened in my journal. 

Although I’ve always loved reading, creative writing was never really a particular strength of mine in school so it’s funny how it was through journaling that revealed the hidden writer within me all those years later! 

WOW: We can all relate to your love of reading – and I also share your love of Paris and I hope you’ll tell us more about that love and how it plays into your writing? 

Natalie: Although I now live outside the city, Paris will always hold a special place in my heart. To me, Paris feels like the center of the universe and when I’m there, I feel revitalized. It’s a place where the seemingly impossible, sometimes wonderful and surreal come together and meet in one big celebration. This is the reason why I love to write about my experiences in the city, but also why so many of my fictional stories take place with Paris as a backdrop. 

WOW: Sounds absolutely dreamy – I feel like Paris must have less stress than other places, but I’m sure that’s just my little girl dreams and speaking of stress, what advice do you have for others when it comes to managing through stressful times? (other than moving to Paris… that is) 

Natalie: I’ll never forget when someone I used to work for told me she wanted to give me a piece of advice. She said, “Just remember, if you’re ever going through a stressful time in your life, do what I do. Just push it all down and keep your mind as busy as possible, focus on as many other things that you can.” 

Whilst that may work for her, I made a mental note that it would probably be best to avoid doing that. I don’t think much good can come from trying to run away and block out whatever stress you have going on in your life. Writing or journaling about whatever is troubling you, however, may be a good start to try and sort through all the thoughts rushing through your head. I learnt that through writing this essay! 

WOW: Sounds like the same sort of advice I received while growing up – glad one of us found a better way! What a treat it is that you submitted for our contest - What is your history with writing contests? - tell us what prompted you to submit to this particular contest? What would you like to tell other authors concerning contests and submitting their work? 

Natalie: I have a real affinity with the WOW community. Sharing non-fiction essays with the world is quite daunting but WOW feels like a genuinely safe and supportive environment in which to house my work. 

My advice to authors before submitting to WOW or any other contest would be to read previous submissions from other writers who had winning essays. This will give you a feel for what the judges might be looking for. Before entering WOW contests, I read a lot of previous essays from other brave, talented writers and the thought of seeing my work alongside theirs one day was what really inspired me to try submitting something myself. 

I’m so grateful to WOW for choosing my essay as a runner-up, it really is a huge validation and boost to my confidence as a writer. Thank you! 

WOW: You’re ever so welcome my dear! I also must say that it has been such a pleasure interviewing you and I hope you’ll be back soon! Congratulations again, Natalie, and wishing you much writing success in 2023! 

 Find out more about WOW's flash fiction and creative 
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How Hiring An Editor Elevated My Manuscript & My Confidence

Spending money on something that is not making money can be difficult to justify. Trust me, I know better than anyone what it’s like to feel guilty about spending money on books and writing when essentially, it’s a hobby. Or is it?

If I were to argue that writing and reading provide my mind with what exercise gives my body, I’d have a pretty good argument. But I’m not here to argue. My point is that there is value in hiring an editor, and frankly, I wish I did it sooner.

Time can go by slowly while you bob up and down, trying to hold onto the flotation device that you are riding in a sea of words and critique partner suggestions that can excite, disappoint and confuse you all at the same time. These kinds of opinions are worth their weight in gold when they come from your most trusted and respected fellow writers, but when they come from a stranger, it’s a hit-and-miss between ‘keep your skin on’ and ‘that smells nice.’

Most of all, the confusion caused by too much treading water was costing me because I was full of doubt and that was not helping my confidence.

Through querying my manuscript, I had worked out that I could write and had an intriguing premise, but something was missing. And even though I had read Save The Cat and had a manuscript assessment, I still wasn’t hitting all the beats for a sellable women’s fiction manuscript.

Enter an editor.

I sent off my manuscript to an editor when it was “as good as I could make it” at the time. I knew it could be better, but I just didn’t know how to improve it any further. So although I was worried about the cost, I knew it was time to employ this editor. And boy was it the best thing ever!

Three weeks later, I had 1092 revisions to consider!

One month later, I had dealt with all 464 insertions, 459 deletions, 10 moves, 113 formatting issues, and 46 comments. It wasn’t easy, but I was motivated, confident, and more determined than ever to get published. Multiple emails, phone calls and a Zoom chat also helped to nut out the direction I was going to go with my edits.

Now I have finished the final round of edits, it’s actually unbelievable (there were so few)! And this feeling of accomplishment is amazing, to say the least.

I was a writer who second-guessed herself, worked at a sloth's pace, and swung between wanting to be published and never really believing I was good enough. But after going through the editing process with Fiona from Beyond Words Literary Agency, I am confident in my work and ability and hopeful this manuscript will be published.

That is priceless!


Kelly Sgroi is based in Melbourne, Australia. She’s now represented by Beyond Words Literary Agency, is a content writer at Social Media Tribe and is an enthusiastic member of the writing community who conducts author interviews and posts book reviews. She has some short works published by WOW! Women on Writing, Dream Journal, The Endometriosis Foundation of America, Endometriosis Australia, and a few Medium publications. Her debut manuscript is a women’s fiction story about motherhood.
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Friday Speak Out!: Five Easy Tricks to Overcome Writer’s Block

Friday, February 24, 2023

by Tracey Buchanan

Inspiration. One of those words hovering around creative arts like a shimmering gold ring that’s only sometimes close enough to grasp. As a journalist, early in my professional career as a writer, I didn’t have the luxury of waiting until inspiration hit. Writer’s block wasn’t an option—a newspaper would be coming out and my inches of column space could not read “catch you next time.”

And that turned out to be good training. Early on I learned some tricks to overcome a dearth of inspiration.

First up—just do it. You know that old saying “start by putting one foot in front of the other”? Well, that works with words too. Sometimes overcoming writer’s block is simply a matter of writing one word. Any word. No kidding. Any word. Write puffy, perpendicular, pleasant, peacock. Write superfluous, jog, the, anteater, toot. See where it leads you.

Another trick? Daydream. Come up with questions like: “What does my perfect day look like?” “What does my character’s perfect day look like?” “Who would I invite to dinner if I could have anyone, living or not?” Set a timer and just let your mind play for an allotted amount of time.

Reading can inspire writing too. Somebody else’s words can flip the switch in your brain. Whether it’s a book on craft or your favorite fiction, reading sparks synapses and sometimes those electrical pops can start an inspirational bonfire. (Caution: Don’t compare your writing to someone else’s. That can stop you quicker than a smack upside the head. Just enjoy their words, their sentences, their style.)

Or, do something else completely. I’m an artist too, and some days, when the words aren’t flowing freely, I go to my studio and paint or draw. My brain relaxes enough to concentrate on my writing again. I have to limit myself, though, or I’d end up playing in my art supplies all day. But even an hour of piddling at something else—whether you like to organize a drawer, take a walk, or dance around the house to your favorite music—can replenish your creative juices.

And speaking of juice…Make sure you’re eating, exercising, and sleeping well. Yes, those things definitely affect your creativity. If you take care of yourself, I guarantee you won’t suffer from writer’s block as often. You know the drill—foods like blueberries and nuts (and dark chocolate!) feed your brain. Exercise of any kind—walking, biking, yoga—stimulates you and releases endorphins. Sleep, with which I have a love-hate relationship, renews you. I don’t like to nap but I have found that lying down and doing some deep breathing and intentional relaxation works to reenergize me.

Whatever you do, don’t give in. Writer’s block doesn’t have to derail you. It’s not a monster that is going to devour you. Think of it as a literal block—just a little children’s toy that needs to be put away. Don’t give it any more authority than that.

Now, go write.

* * *

Tracey Buchanan crashed into the literary world when she was six and won her first writing award. Fast forward through years as a journalist, mom, volunteer, freelance writer, editor, artist, and circus performer (not really, but wouldn’t that be something?) and you find her happily planted in the world of fiction with her debut novel, Toward the Corner of Mercy and Peace (Regal House Publishing, June 20, 2023). She and her husband Kent live in Paducah, Ky. They have two married sons, seven perfect grandchildren, and one very mixed-up dog.

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

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The Making of a Podcast Episode

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Due to my current workload, I’ve been working on producing new episodes my true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas, every other week. I have a notebook where I keep my ideas for topics, and I have an e-mail account set up where listeners can send in suggestions. I check to see what national holidays are coming up. For my most recent episode, I wondered if there were any missing persons cases or true crimes that took place near Valentine’s Day. When I went back to my list of ideas, I noticed there was an unsolved murder from Asheville, North Carolina, from February 14, 1987. I penciled in that case for the week of Valentine’s Day this year in my project management software and began researching. 

One of the investments I’ve made for my podcast is a premium membership to Newspapers.com. It has been well worth the money I paid for it because it features more than 834 million pages of historical newspapers. Once I began researching the Valentine’s Day abduction/murder of a young woman named Pamela Murray from a shopping mall, I realized another victim had been linked to the same killer. Reading the news reports in chronological order, I could see the suspect had been lingering at this same mall for several days in a row, exposing himself to one woman in the parking lot and following another into a women’s bathroom. This became the central focus of my episode, along with the reports of how evidence found at two murder scenes linked two women to one suspect. I looked for other news items to include in my script.

There is another well-known case from my state, the disappearance of an 8-year-old named Asha Degree, and she also went missing around Valentine’s Day in 2000. Since I had never covered her before on my podcast I gave a timeline of her case along with recent updates. And since the podcast was about a cold case, I included the arrest of a suspect in a 1984 double homicide from Charlotte, North Carolina. (Genetic genealogy strikes again!) One of the things I enjoy the most about creating my podcast is finding ways to weave various cases like these three all together in one narrative. I’m always on the hunt for stories to share and explore on Missing in the Carolinas. I follow the pages of my local news sites and bookmark posts so I can find them later. Sometimes I’ll be reading an archived newspaper article and scan the page to find something else to jot down in my notebook. Ideas are all around you, if you just keep an open mind and a good place to take notes. 

You can read an abbreviated transcript of the my podcast episode, "Episode 54, The Pamela Murray and Beverly Sherman Cold Cases" here.

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and host/producer of the true crime podcast Missing in the Carolinas. She will be hosting a 90-minute webinar, “You Can Start Your Own Podcast!” on March 22. She will share examples of different formats, what kinds of software, subscriptions, and other tools you may need, finding ideas for creating podcasting content, monetization ideas, and how you can repurpose your materials. Learn more about Renee at her podcast website.
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Interview With Odyssey Writing Workshop Graduate, Avione Lee

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

If your 2023 writing goal is to take a writing class, you'll love the Odyssey Writing Workshop. It's an intensive online, one-on-one writing workshop customized just for you. 

Since its inception in 1996, the Odyssey Writing Workshop has offered its world-renowned, 6-week workshop, helping writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror make major improvements in their work. 

Fifty-nine percent of graduates have been professionally published, and among graduates are award winners, Amazon bestsellers, and New York Times bestsellers.

Last year, Odyssey transformed into a breakthrough new program to become both more accessible and more effective. Students taking Your Personal Odyssey receive the inspiring, transformative learning experience Odyssey is known for, but that experience is customized to maximize learning and improvement for each student.

Director Jeanne Cavelos is a former senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell, bestselling author, and winner of the World Fantasy Award with 35 years of experience guiding writers and helping them make major improvements.

Today I'll be interviewing graduate Avione Lee about her journey through the Odyssey Writing Workshop. Before you read our conversation, here's a bit more about her:

Avione Lee was born and raised in Texas, as indicated by her excessive use of the word y’all. She is a graduate of the summer 2022 Your Personal Odyssey Writing Workshop, a Madeleine Milburn Fellow, and a Pitch Wars alum. Her debut novel, about a boy who discovers he can turn music into colorful magic, will be published by Simon and Schuster in 2024, and she cannot wait for you to read it.

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First off, congratulations Avione on your publication! It's amazing to read that your book will be published by Simon and Schuster in 2024. What an honor! How did Your Personal Odyssey Writing Workshop play a part in getting your book published?

Avione: Thank you so much! And thank you for this opportunity to talk a little bit more about it! My book was on sub at the same time that I applied for the Your Personal Odyssey Writing Workshop, so it did not impact the initial purchase, but it will impact the final product because there are so many wonderful insights that Jeanne gave me during YPOWW that I am definitely implementing in the book!

As a fun fact, I actually got the news about my first offer about one minute before a scheduled zoom chat with Jeanne, which made me about 4-5 minutes late as I read the email and immediately freaked out. Jeanne was so wonderful and celebrated with me on the zoom call (after I apologized for being late!) and was just so nice to talk to about it. She was the first person I told (outside my husband, who heard me flipping out, haha), which will always be a very wonderful memory.

WOW: How awesome is that? I loved reading in your essay about how much knowledge and wisdom is within the Your Personal Odyssey Writing Workshop program. How did you absorb it all and apply it to your own writing?

Avione: Thank you so much! It is absolutely impossible to explain how much wisdom Your Personal Odyssey provides. I really thought I knew some things about writing, but that was all put into question in the opening 10-15 minutes of the very first class! There are so many new (to me) writing tricks I learned in YPOWW, from dissecting the writing voice of masters to seeing how an author can pull in and out of point of view and many other interesting tidbits and styles that I had no clue about. It was also really wonderful to view the guest author's lessons to get another take on how a successful writer writes -- and let me tell you, they are all different! 

But on top of all that, Jeanne herself is a jewel of the program. She saw so much in so little, and she always caught me when I was trying to cut corners or hide things I didn't really want to explain or even understand. In addition, she saw things that I didn't even see myself! I am still amazed at all of her insight.

As far as how I absorbed it all, I would say I didn't! There is so much information to learn, and I believe Jeanne knows that more than anyone, so she had us focus on one or two things. Of those two things I focused on, I would say I absorbed just enough to make a concrete change by the end of the workshop. It was difficult because I was forced to overwrite just to make sure I was getting the concepts, but in this case, overwriting was very helpful! Luckily, the classes are available indefinitely, so I make it a point to stop in on occasion to review certain topics.
WOW: That's awesome how much you gained. Who would you say this workshop is right for?

Avione: I would say this workshop is for someone who writes fairly consistently and who is hoping to take their writing to another level. I think it will benefit someone the most who has already written a short story or a novel to completion, regardless of how bad you think it is. There is so much knowledge gained in writing from just finishing something, so I would say an aspiring writer to Your Personal Odyssey should have something finished in their computer.  
WOW: Makes sense! Your Personal Odyssey Writing Workshop is an at-home program. What was that like for you?

Avione: It was something to get used to! I'm not going to lie, the transition was painful even when I did all the necessary steps that Jeanne recommended for preparing your writing space. I still had a full-time remote job while participating in YPO, so I needed to find time to work and write and be an active member of my family.

It took about one week to get everything straight, and I was so worried that I would not be able to pull it off, but after dividing my day up into work time, writing time, zoom time, and family time, I was able to make it all happen. Forget sleep, ha!
WOW: Ha, I'll bet! I love how you compare your experience with Your Personal Odyssey Writing Workshop to Dorothy and following the yellow brick road. How did this transform the way you write?

Avione: The way I write will never be the same, honestly. I think the biggest transformation is in the thinking process of writing. In YPOWW, I learned how to really sit down and plan a scene to figure out what emotions I want to impart in this scene and what I want to accomplish. I also had a focus area for me to work on, which was point of view and sensory detail. Since I knew that was what I needed to work on, before I started writing the scene, I would sit down and write out how I wanted the point of view to develop in the scene and what possible sensory details could be added. My novel deals in color and music, so Jeanne really wanted to push me to add more of that to the scenes. Amazingly, it was sadly lacking beforehand, haha. Go figure! The things you don't notice until they are pointed out, right?
WOW: That type of feedback is so invaluable. Would you say that you waited at just the right time to take this program? If so, why is that?

Avione: Yes, I feel that my writing career was at a standstill. I had gotten an agent, which was great, and I was on sub, which was great, but I didn't have anything else I was doing. I am lucky to have some amazing writing mentors in my life, from my Pitch Wars mentor Shakirah Bourne to my agent Chloe Seager and my agency Madeleine Milburn. After my book was on sub, I knew I needed to learn more, which is why I tried out for Your Personal Odyssey. Also, I just want to say that a stay-at-home writing program of the caliber of The Odyssey Program is like getting a golden ticket in Willy Wonka. To have a master of craft coach me while in the comfort of my daily routine was an experience that I will cherish forever.
WOW: That is so rewarding. I'm impressed you completed this workshop while raising children AND working full-time! How did you manage to do it all?

Avione: Thank you for that, haha! It was so hard. To answer your question, I clocked my time to the minute! Seriously. My entire day was planned, including rest and playtime. Jeanne gave us all a sign to hang on our doors or to put up in our workspace that indicated that we were working and should not be bothered, and let me tell you, I used the mess out of that sign! Haha. 

To give a more concrete answer, I usually woke up around 4 am and worked on Odyssey material until the kids woke up. It was the summertime, so they didn't need to wake up too early. Then we all ate breakfast, and my lovely husband played with them while I went back to writing for another hour. My break time would be spent working on my day job. So, let's say at around 9-10 am, I tried to finish as much work as I possibly could with my job. After that, I would take a work break and work on Odyssey assignments for another 1-2 hours, which would put me around lunchtime. In this instance, I ate lunch at my computer while watching an Odyssey lecture. If I was behind, then I might watch the lecture at 1.5 speed to catch up, and I always took assignment notes while writing so I didn't have to go back and fill out the assignment afterwards. That was a trick that Jeanne told me, actually!

After lunch was probably a thirty-minute break, and then I would go back to working on my job for another hour or two. Right after that, I would take another 15–30-minute break, then hop right back into Odyssey work. I also took a nap somewhere in there as well. The nap was always a nappaccino, which I highly recommend! If you have never heard of it, a nappaccino is where you drink a coffee in 5 minutes and then take a nap immediately. The coffee does not affect your system until 20 minutes later, so you can get a good twenty minute nap in, and then the coffee kicks in to wake you up from your nap so you are wide awake afterwards and ready to work. I cannot recommend them enough to people who drink coffee, and it also works with black tea. The trick is, you have to drink the entire coffee within 5 minutes and then nap immediately afterwards. It does not work if you sip the coffee for 20 minutes and then try to nap.

If I had any work left from my day job, then I tried to finish that after the kids went to sleep, then I wrote until 12-1 am every night and woke up at 4 am the next day to do it all over again. It was an insane six weeks.
WOW: I LOVE your tips! What type of strengths did you gain from Your Personal Odyssey Writing Workshop that you will take with you in your future writing endeavors?

Avione: There are so many. I would say of my focus points, planning the scene is a big takeaway. I really enjoyed the tool of using bubble maps to see how a scene could progress. Another big takeaway is Narrative Distance in point of view, which I knew nothing about before I started! But now, narrative distance is one of the things I always think about. I am still working on understanding and using narrative distance the best, but it is a really fun and worthwhile learning process. 
WOW: That is something to keep in mind. What would you say to someone who wonders if this program is right for them?

Avione: I would first ask, do you have 15-17 hours a day that you can give to the Odyssey program? It is a serious time commitment that should not be taken lightly. After that, I would ask if they have ever finished anything. This could be a short story or a novel. It doesn't have to be good. It could be the most awful pile of poo you have ever seen, but if you finished it, then you have done something the vast majority of writers have not done. Lastly, I would ask them if they think they need to learn something or if they just want to get praise for how great they write. If they are only thinking of getting praise, then this program is not for them because the goal is to make you a better writer, not to shine your shoes for you. 

Even if you are a stellar writer, the goal is to make you even better, so Jeanne will look into your weaknesses so that you can improve on them. And perhaps your weaknesses are miles better than the next person's strengths, that could be the case, just don't expect Jeanne to not tell you that it is a weakness for you personally because this is Your Personal Odyssey. That is what is so lovely about this program, and that is why everyone who goes through it will become a better writer at the end if they are open to all the wonderful information and riches this program offers.

DIRECTOR NOTE: “Avione took the 6-week version of the program; 12-week and 18-week versions are also available for those prefer more time to complete the work.”

WOW: Thank you so much for your time today! Writers, if your Personal Odyssey Writing Workshop sounds right for you, submit your application. The deadline is March 13th. Don't wait!
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An End to Arguing by Linda and Charlie Bloom: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, February 20, 2023

I'm so excited to launch the blog tour for An End to Arguing by Linda and Charlie Bloom. This book is perfect for people who are interested in having great relationships that need help with conflict management, prevention, and repair. Continue reading to learn more about this helpful book and read an interview with the authors. You'll also have a chance to win a copy of the book!

First, here is a bit more about An End to Arguing:

Now more than ever, couples need guidance for navigating conflict wisely and skillfully. Drawing on insights from their work with couples since 1975, the Blooms offer practical tools and strategies that apply to all relationships. An End to Arguing convincingly shows how destructive conflicts can be avoided, and provides stimulus for individual and interpersonal growth. They use compelling examples from their clinical work and their own fifty-year marriage, which has had its share of challenges.

An End to Arguing doesn't just provide a way of preventing differences from turning into painful conflict; it gives the reader an insight into what qualities are inherent in argument-free relationships. The way of getting there may be simpler than you think!

Publisher: Koehler Books
ISBN-10: 1646638085
ISBN-13: 978-1646638086
Print length: 306 pages

You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Bookshop.org. Be sure to also add it to your GoodReads reading list.

About the Authors, Linda and Charlie Bloom

Linda Bloom, LCSW and Charlie Bloom, MSW have been married since 1972. Trained as psychotherapists and relationship counselors, they have worked with individuals, couples, groups, and organizations since 1975 and have lectured and taught at learning institutes throughout the USA and internationally, including the Esalen Institute, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Northern California Mindfulness Institute, The California Institute for Integral Studies, and the World Health Organization. They have authored five books, including the bestseller, 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (over 100,000 sold), Secrets of Great Marriages, Happily Ever After... and 39 Other Myths about Love, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places, and An End to Arguing: 101 Valuable Lessons for All Relationships. They are founders and co-directors of Bloomwork, based in Santa Cruz, California.

Visit them online:

----- Interview by Nicole Pyles -----

WOW: Congratulations on your book, End to Arguing! What inspired you both to write this book? 

Linda: My husband Charlie and I have been working with couples for decades and find that one of the main problems that they are challenged by is that they do not yet know how to manage their differences well. Since this was a serious problem for us years ago, we have a great deal of practical wisdom to offer. We learned where the lines are between having a passionate interchange and going crossing over to trying to coerce another to see things our way or to change their behavior to what we think is best. 

We are keenly aware of the line between having a fruitful discussion that leads to understanding and one that becomes an argument. When we are flooded with feelings, only the primitive reptilian brain is working, the part that is at the top of the spinal cord, and when people stop to pause to reflect on why they are so triggered, they can re-engage their neocortex, the front of the brain that sees a variety of choices. That’s when couples can connect with each other, not act out and manipulate which frightens and hurts the other person. That’s when they can become curious and begin to learn about each other. 

My husband Charlie and I are now recovered hotheads, and because we got such effective help when we were learning to accomplish effective ways of dealing with our differences, I now feel a responsibility to pay it forward to those many people who are in need of these skills. 

WOW: What fantastic insights you've just shared and I love your honesty. This is definitely not your first book about helping others! What makes this one different from the others? 

Linda: We have written four other books prior to An End to Arguing. The first one is 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married. It was the run-away best seller, selling over 100,000 copies. It is the basic foundational book for having a successful partnership. 

The second book is Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truths from Real Couples about Lasting Love. This one is for those who are motivated to learn more than the basics. It’s a collection of 27 stories of extremely happy couples telling their secrets of success. They are inspirational stories from couples who are experienced and have ideas to offer couples who want to enhance their partnership. 

Then we wrote Happily Even After and Thirty-nine Other Myths about Love. Over the years, we found that people of all ages, not just the young ones have romantic myths that are running them into trouble and we made an attempt to wake the readers up to examine their limiting beliefs. 

Book number four, That Which Doesn’t Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places, is a memoir about a period of several years back in the 80’s, where I lived in chronic stress. I was bringing up our three kids single-handedly most of the time because Charlie’s corporate job demanded so much of him. We came very close to divorce because we did not handle this irreconcilable difference very gracefully. We got good help during that time so we managed to avoid breaking up our family. It’s a gory story with a happy ending. That period of time is where we learned a great deal about handling differences well, which led to this most recent book. All the other books mention conflict management, but this is the one that has the specific details and how to do it well. 

WOW: I'm so impressed with the work you've done to help couples. What is your writing process? 

Linda: I took a workshop years ago with Natalie Goldberg where the most important thing I learned from her was to give myself permission to “write the worst shit in America.” This blessing that she bestowed upon me allowed me to sit down to write my thoughts without being stopped by critic attacks. I learned how to outrun my inner critic that would tell me, "It’s been said before and better than you can say it.” I can talk back to the inner critic and say, “But no one is making these points in just the way I am saying it. And furthermore, people need to hear these pieces of practical wisdom, that will enhance their lives, expressed many times in many ways." 

I am no longer intimidated by the blank page or the blank screen. So, I am the one who gets the process started. In our writing process, Charlie and I brainstorm ideas, where I take notes. I type up the notes, and do most of the writing of the first drafts. When I bring the material to him, it is a form that is pretty rough. Charlie, the English major, and silver-tonged poet, makes the writing more literary. We both have our strengths in the writing process like we do in other areas of our lives, and it’s a winning combination to capitalize on each other’s strengths. 

WOW: I love how you both utilize your unique strengths in the writing process. What outcome do you hope for in those that read An End to Arguing? 

Linda: There was a time in our lives when I was suffering a great deal because our relationship was compromised to the point where I didn’t know if we would break up. I loved my husband so deeply, but my mind was on fire because I missed him so much when he was busy and distracted building his career and leaving me to bring up the children by myself a large part of the time. 

On top of being lonely and exhausted from attempting to work and bring up three highly spirited kids, we fought terribly and often during that time. We made it through it, and learned so much that I feel that I have a calling to share what I have learned in an attempt to spare others some of the anguish that I went through. My greatest hope is that those who read the book will learn how to take a difficult relationship up to good and a good relationship to great. Since we get most of our happiness and well-being (and even our health and longevity) from our closest relationships, to handle differences well is a direct path to that co-creative stage of relationship. 

WOW: I absolutely agree. I love that you make each chapter short, and easy to read and digest. How did you decide on formatting this book in this way? 

Linda: Our first book was written this way, with the 101 format of short chapters with lots of little stories in them that carry the teaching. Because our first book was so popular, we decided to use that format again. People can choose from the table of contents which ideas they are most interested in and don’t have to read the whole book. They are small bites and most people these days are so busy that’s all they can handle. We use stories because people may forget the text, but an interesting story remains in their memory and can help to keep them awake when they are changing old habits. People also like lists that make the changes simple to apply, so the book is full of bullet points where we boil down the teachings to the bare essentials.

WOW: That's such a helpful format! I am so glad that others have the opportunity to read this book. Best of luck to you on your tour and thank you for your time!

An End to Arguing by Linda and Charlie Bloom Blog Tour

----- Blog Tour Calendar

February 20 @ The Muffin
Join us at The Muffin as we celebrate the launch of An End to Arguing by Linda and Charlie Bloom. Read an interview with the authors and enter to win a copy of the book.

February 21st @ Create Write Now
Join Mari when she shares a guest post written by Linda and Charlie Bloom about moving from fear to fearlessness.

February 23rd @ World of my Imagination
Visit Nicole's blog for her review of An End to Arguing by Linda and Charlie Bloom.

February 24th @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Join Lisa for her interview with Linda and Charlie Bloom, authors of An End to Arguing.

February 25th @ The Mommies Review
Join Glenda for her review of An End to Arguing by Linda and Charlie Bloom.

February 28th @ Mindy McGinnis' Blog
Join Mindy for a guest post by Linda and Charlie Bloom about repairing trust when it's broken.

March 1st @ Lady Unemployed
Visit Nicole's blog for a guest post by Linda and Charlie Bloom about the foundational building blocks of all successful relationships.

March 5th @ Rachael's Thoughts
Visit Rachael's blog for her reflections on Linda and Charlie Bloom's book An End to Arguing.

March 5th @ Choices
Visit Madeline's blog for a guest post by authors Linda and Charlie Bloom about the art of committed listening.

March 7th @ In Literary Love
Jen will be featuring An End to Arguing by Linda and Charlie bloom on her Instagram page today.

March 9th @ The Frugalista Mom
Join Rochie for her review of An End to Arguing by Linda and Charlie Bloom. You'll also have the chance to win a copy of the book too!

March 10th @ Strength 4 Spouses
Read Wendi's blog for her insights about An End to Arguing by Linda and Charlie Bloom.

March 12th @ A Storybook World
Join Deirdra for a guest post by Linda and Charlie Bloom entitled,"Should I stay or should I go?".

March 13th @ Katherine Itacy's Blog
Join Katherine for her review of An End to Arguing by Linda and Charlie Bloom.

March 14th @ Strength 4 Spouses
Come by Wendi's blog again for a guest post by Linda and Charlie Bloom about why you shouldn't choose your battles.

March 15th @ Liberate and Lather
Angela will be reviewing An End to Arguing by Linda and Charlie Bloom.

March 18th @ Free to be Me
Join Leslie as she reviews An End to Arguing by Linda and Charlie Bloom. 

March 19th @ Balance and Joy
Visit Sheri's blog for her thoughts about An End to Arguing by Linda and Charlie Bloom.

March 20th @ Lisa's Reading
Join Lisa to read her review of An End to Arguing by Linda and Charlie Bloom.

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

Enter to win a copy of An End to Arguing by Linda and Charlie Bloom! Fill out the Rafflecopter form by March 5th at 11:59pm CT for a chance to win. We will choose a winner randomly the next day and follow up via email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Interview with Jean Ransom, Runner Up in the WOW! Q1 2023 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest

Saturday, February 18, 2023


Jean Ransom has been writing for a living since she sold her first story to Seventeen magazine at age seventeen. Over the years, she’s written for radio stations and advertising agencies, traveled internationally with a bed-and-breakfast magazine, and published numerous articles in national and regional magazines and newspapers. The author of nine children’s picture books, Jean became interested in writing flash fiction and micro memoir after participating in workshops at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. She’s also taken several WOW! Women on Writing classes over the past several years. Jean divides her time between a house in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, and a cottage in northern Michigan, where she’s working on her Northern Naturalist certification at the local college. When Jean isn’t reading or writing or taking classes, she spends all the time she can in the woods or on the water. 

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

WOW: Welcome, Jean, and congratulations on placing as a runner up in this contest! “Leaving” is a concise essay that’s also full of wisdom and emotion. What was the writing and revision process like for you with this piece? 

Jean: I think the story had been percolating for at least a year before I realized that my obsession with collecting a variety of differently-colored fallen leaves was actually helping me process my mother's decline due to Alzheimer's. That "aha" moment led to the first draft of "Leaving," written for an online class on short essays. I revised it once with suggestions from the instructor, let it "rest" for several months, then had my writers' group give me feedback. I didn't revise again so much as I cut words, but I think the final version was better for it. It was an emotional piece to write, but it came to me almost fully formed. I just had to get the words on the page. 

WOW: As a children’s book author, what advice would you give to writers hoping to explore that genre? 

Jean: Read, read, read! The children's book industry has changed a lot since I first started writing for kids. I'd advise anyone interested in exploring this avenue to binge-read as many new books as possible before even thinking about submitting a manuscript. "New" means books that have been published in the last five years. This is especially important for potential picture-book authors (and illustrators!). A public library is a great place to start! Learn what's out there, who publishes the books you're attracted to, and where you see your book fitting in. To find out how to format your manuscript, which publishing houses are open to unsolicited submissions, and whether you need an agent or even how to get one, the internet is your friend! There are so many free resources online, as well as classes, webinars, you name it. Attending a conference focused on writing for the children's market also can be a great introduction. SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) has national, regional, and state conferences, plus lots of free information on their website, www.scbwi.org. 

WOW: Having been published in regional and national magazines, where do you get the inspiration for your article ideas and pitches? 

Jean: I've always been curious, though my husband says I'm just "nosy." I may read or hear or see something that catches my attention, and I'll want to know more . Whether it's an off-the-beaten-path place to visit or a person with an unusual hobby, I'll often disappear down the proverbial rabbit hole to satisfy my curiosity. I might be inspired enough to pitch a story or write an essay. At the very least, I'll end up with some "fun facts" to spring on family and friends! 

WOW: I love hearing that you sold your first piece to Seventeen magazine. What a great place to start! Do you mind telling us what it was about? 

Jean: Seventeen magazine was a wonderful place to start! Back in the day, I was an avid reader of the magazine, as well as an aspiring writer. don't know what made me think Seventeen would want my work, but I submitted it anyway! (There's something to be said for being young and fearless!) Seventeen accepted my first story, "Kitchen Capers," a humor piece about my dubious cooking skills (think chocolate-chip cookies made with salt, not sugar, and meatloaf with the consistency of a hockey puck), which ran in the June 1978 issue. I still have a copy of it! 

WOW: What books are you excited to read next? 

Jean: My TBR (To Be Read) stack is pretty tall, thanks to my book-loving and book-giving family. I'm looking forward to reading the books I received this past Christmas, including "Underland: A Deep Time Journey," by Robert Macfarlane; "Slow Birding," by Joan E. Strassman; "Sisters, " by Daisy Johnson; and "In the Company of Crows and Ravens," by John M. Marzluff and Tony Angell. I also love a good psychological thriller, and am always on the lookout for books that will keep me reading long after I should have turned off the light!
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Why to Write with Tropes

Thursday, February 16, 2023
Tropes help readers identify their type of story.

When a reader picks up a fantasy novel, a rom-com, or a cozy mystery, they come to the book with certain expectations. A fantasy reader expects magic. Rom-com fans want both romance and laughs. Cozy readers want to watch someone just like them catch the bad guy. 

Using your genre’s tropes will help you meet their expectations. First of all, you need to understand what a trope is. In short, a trope is a device. Hmm. That’s not very satisfying as explanations go. A trope is a plot element, a theme, or a character type that readers expect to find in this type of story. 

If you are writing a fantasy novel, possible tropes include: 
  • A character who is chosen to solve an epic problem or is the heir to the kingdom/all things magical.
  • A mentor character. 
  • Someone or something indescribably evil. 
  • A tarted-up medieval setting. 
  • A powerful artifact. 
  • A quest. 
Rom-coms have a whole different set of tropes: 
  • Friends to lovers. 
  • Enemies to lovers. 
  • Someone popular/successful falls for someone unpopular/unsuccessful. 
  • The makeover. 
  • Love triangles. 
  • Stuck with each other – think snowstorm, elevator, vital to the company project that must be completed the evening of Valentine's Day. 
  • Second chance. 
  • Soul mates. 
Cozy mysteries have yet a different set of tropes: 
  • Amateur detective. 
  • No on-screen violence or sex. 
  • Food including what the amateur detective makes but also frequent dining out. 
  • The victim was not a nice person. 
  • But everyone has something to hide. 
  • Pets, pets, and more pets. 
  • Quirky locations full of quirky characters. 
If you are looking at those lists and thinking that you can't possibly include them all, you're right. But you should use at least a few. 

After all, they can serve as convenient shortcuts. Fantasies include magic. You don’t need to spend a considerable portion of your word count explaining systems of magic or spell casting to your readers. Readers who pick up paranormal mysteries are ready to believe that the story could include a ghost. And science fiction readers will accept faster than light travel. 

Tropes also increase reader satisfaction. A romance reader who loves enemies to lovers stories will be primed to like your enemies to lovers story. A fantasy reader who wants to root for the underdog will pick up a book about someone who finds out that they are heir to the kingdom. Cozy readers love to try to sort out red herrings and clues as they read. 

When you tell readers that your book is a certain genre, this claim is a contract of sorts. Readers approach your story with a set of expectations. Know what they are and deliver a variety in a story that is all your own and readers will be primed to enjoy the trip from Once Upon a Time to The End. 


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 March 6, 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 March 6, 2023) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins March 6, 2023).
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Right vs. Left Brain: What Do You Think, Writers?

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

For the last few months, I have not been a happy writer. At least, not in that “joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart” way. But I have been a busy writer and so I didn’t notice. Until the start of February, and as we say in the story-writing business…AND THEN SOMETHING HAPPENED. 

What happened was, I started writing the second book in my cozy mystery series. Suddenly, a smile replaced the scowl when I sat down at my laptop. My fingers flew across the keys and my thoughts laughed out loud! And in the midst of all this writing elation, somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain, a memory came to me. Coincidentally, a memory having to do with the brain. 

I recalled an article I’d written for WOW! Women-on-Writing: “Making Time for Right and Left Brain Writing.” In January, 2009, I was a very busy writer, sending out both fiction and non-fiction pieces and just beginning to delve into children’s writing. 

The gist of the article had to do with the theory about dominant brain hemispheres, right or left, and how as writers we can accommodate the logical, practical, analytical side vs. the creative, imaginative side. The bottom line is that, as writers, we’re going to need a modicum of mastery in many different skill sets from both the right and left sides of our brain to succeed. 

BUT—and here’s why my brain remembered this article as I was writing away these last few weeks—all work (left) and no play (right) makes Cathy an unhappy writer! I’d been spending all my time on the business end of my writing: managing the book cover, figuring out the formatting program, researching marketing. In the midst of dealing with all those details, my brain cried, “Enough!” I chucked the grind and sat down on February 1st to a new document titled: Ladies of SPI, Book II

I didn’t look at my notes or check an outline, all of which I’d worked on in the summer. I had a rough—very rough idea—of what this second book was about, but I needed to just write. I needed to let my brain take off into uncharted territory. In a word, I needed to have some fun

And oh my, y’all, it felt good to write a story! Birds sang, unicorns frolicked outside my office window! Balance had been restored in my writing world and in the last couple of days, I’ve actually taken my own advice from thirteen years ago: I’ve been making time for right and left brain writing stuff. 

Now, honestly, I’m not sure that the right vs. left brain dominance theory is legitimate. I don’t have time for researching all the updates on the subject. However, I did take a few tests, just like I did before, to see what results I’d get. 

I found a link to the spinning girl mentioned in the article (the link there is outdated) and at first, she spun clockwise; she started spinning counterclockwise within fifteen seconds. What? So I took another non-spinning visual test, and it came out slightly more left brain. In an answer-the-questions test, I came out right brain, though again, very slight differences. 

Much like all those years ago, I’m still a writer mostly in the middle: detailed-oriented with organizational skills as well as creative and artistic. And not only am I okay with that outcome but I’m also pretty sure there’s something of value there. To wit, as long as I can remember to make my whole brain happy, I’ll keep the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my (writing) heart! 

P.S. How about you, writer? If you tried the test(s), let me know how you fared, and what you think about right vs. left brain when it comes to writing!

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In Common by Norma Watkins: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, February 13, 2023

I'm excited to announce the launch of our next blog tour for In Common by Norma Watkins. This book is perfect for people who love family sagas and books about women struggling for power in a world that disdains them. Continue on to read more about this captivating book as well as an interview with the author, Norma Watkins. You'll also have the chance to win a copy for yourself too!

First, here's more about In Common:

Lillian Creekmore grows up at her family's popular rural spa. She successfully runs an entire hotel, yet longs for a husband. Then she meets Will Hughes.

Velma Vernon accepts life on a small, struggling farm until a boy she barely tolerates proposes marriage. To accept means duplicating her parents' hard life. Alone, she leaves for the city and triumphs, not as a wife, but by being the best at her job. Velma is content until the most beautiful man she has ever seen walks into her office.

This moving and darkly humorous novel follows the intertwined lives of women willing to surrender everything to a man.

Publisher: Black Rose Writing
ISBN-10: 1684339235
ISBN-13: 978-1684339235
Print Pages: 595 Pages

Purchase a copy of In Common by visiting Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Bookshop.org. Make sure you also add In Common to your Goodreads reading list.

About the Author, Norma Watkins

Raised in the South during the civil rights struggles, Norma Watkins is the author of In Common, and two memoirs: The Last Resort, Taking the Mississippi Cure (2011), which won a gold medal for best nonfiction published in the South by an independent press; and That Woman from Mississippi (2017). She lives in northern California with her woodworker husband and three cats.

You can find her online by visiting her website or reading her blog.

---- Interview by Michelle Cornish

WOW: Congratulations on the release of In Common! After writing two memoirs, this is your first novel. What was your experience writing fiction compared to memoir writing?

Norma: After writing two memoirs, letting go of “I” was a huge relief.  I had great fun making myself not only a minor character in In Common, but a ridiculed one, the relative who shows up with whole oats and brown rice, the one who won’t drink, and coughs every time someone tries to enjoy a cigarette. 

WOW: I love that! I guess after writing memoirs, including a character based on yourself comes naturally. Do you have any advice for creating believable characters?

Norma: Believable characters, in my opinion, always contain a piece of ourselves (usually exaggerated), along with bits of others, stories we've heard, and random things we've read. Blended thoroughly. Both the protagonist in a story and their antagonists, want something. Those wants conflict. Working the trouble out in scenes creates the plot. Believable characters come alive in dialogue. When I'm writing dialogue, I try to become the character in word, thought, and action. The more I accomplish this, the more believable the character.

WOW: "Working the trouble out in scenes creates the plot." That's a golden nugget, right there (among others). Thank you for that. What's your process like when writing your books? 

Norma: I don’t recommend my process. I had a writing teacher who advised never going to a psychiatrist (You will talk away your best material) and never outlining (If you know how things turn out, why bother writing?). I follow his advice and write myself down many blind alleys. My books take forever. Someone asked at a reading of my first memoir if I had been influenced by the popular book and movie The Help. I said, “I began writing The Last Resort before the author of The Help was born.”

WOW: In Common is about how much women willingly sacrifice for love (among other things). What sacrifices did you make to be a writer?

Norma: I ran away from what felt like a hopelessly bigoted place. I left husband, children, and the only place I knew to give myself space to write and think freely. 

WOW: Amazing. How incredibly brave of you! You write about the struggles of women, especially in the South, but you also manage to incorporate dark humor. How did you balance these important issues with humor throughout your novel?

Norma: Humor is my sword and shield. Writing about things you’re ashamed of, afraid of, the things that wake you up at night or give you bad dreams is scary. But we need to write about trouble because that’s what readers want. Happiness is boring, but we’re fascinated by trouble. We want to see how the character got through it, how skillfully or clumsily she handled it, and how she came out the other side, if she did. We want to accompany her on a scary journey from the safe distance of the printed page. Make it funny and you can tell us anything. Let the character laugh at herself and we laugh with her, not at her. Humor needs to be honest. It lets us see something about ourselves, about our prejudices, about the silly world we inhabit. That’s the power of it—laughter in the service of truth.   

WOW: Laughter in the service of truth--so powerful, for sure. In the essence of reading more of these truths with your signature sense of humor, can you share what you’re working on next and where readers can keep in touch with you to learn more?

Norma: In the novel In Common, a character named April, hyper-critical and judgmental, gets on everyone’s nerves. The novel I’m working on, Old Testament Eyes, is April’s book. April is bipolar, a diagnosis she has difficulty dealing with. After her father suffers a stroke, she comes up with a brilliant idea. She will leave her unhappy marriage, move in with her father, and heal them both. Chaos ensues.  

Happy to hear from readers online at watkins.norma[at]gmail[dot]com. You can follow me on my blog: normatalksaboutwriting.wordpress.com

WOW: Thanks so much, Norma! It's been a pleasure learning more about your work and your process. The team at WOW! wishes you much success!

In Common by Norma Watkins Blog Tour

---- Blog Tour Calendar

February 13th @ The Muffin
Join us as we celebrate the blog tour launch of In Common by Norma Watkins. You'll have the chance to read an interview with the author and win a copy of the book.

February 15th @ Michelle Cornish's blog
Visit Michelle’s blog to read about good food as reward and vengeance by Norma Watkins.

February 18th @ A Storybook World
Join Deirdra as she features In Common and shares a guest post from Norma Watkins about writing truths about people who might be hurt by them.

February 20th @ Lisa Buske's blog
Stop by Lisa’s blog to read a guest post by Norma about civil rights and growing up in the South during Jim Crow.

February 22nd @ Author Anthony Avina’s blog
Join us today for author Anthony Avina’s review of In Common.

February 24th @ Fiona Ingram’s author blog
Stop by Fiona’s blog to read a guest post by Norma Watkins featuring a look at how women were treated in the South pre-feminism.

February 25th @ The Book Diva's Reads
Visit Vivian's blog for a feature of In Common by Norma Watkins. You'll have the chance to read an excerpt too!

February 27th @ Mindy McGinnis’s blog
Stop by Mindy’s blog to read a guest post about bad sex.

February 28th @ Seaside Book Nook
Join Jilleen for a spotlight of an excerpt of In Common by Norma Watkins.

March 1st @ The Mommies Reviews
Join Glenda as she reviews In Common and shares a guest post from the author about sharing the hard stuff.

March 2nd @ The Frugalista Mom
Join us for a guest post from Norma Watkins on how you are unique and irreplaceable.

March 4th @ World of My Imagination
Stop by Nicole's blog where Norma Watkins is a guest for "Three Things on a Saturday Night."

March 5th @ A Wonderful World of Words
Visit Joy's blog for a feature of In Common by Norma Watkins.

March 6th @ Life According to Jamie
Join us as Jamie reviews In Common

March 8th @ Author Anthony Avina’s blog
Revisit author Anthony Avina’s blog to read "What are Women Willing to Sacrifice for Freedom?" by Norma Watkins.

March 9th @ The Knotty Needle
Stop by for Judy’s review of In Common.

March 10th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews blog
Join Lisa for an interview with Norma Watkins.

March 11th @ Reading in the Wildwood Reviews
Join us today for Megan’s review of In Common.

March 12th @ Jill Sheets’s blog
Stop by Jill’s blog to read her interview with Norma Watkins

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

Enter to win a copy of the novel, In Common by Norma Watkins. Fill out the Rafflecopter form by February 26th at 11:59 pm CT for a chance to win. We will choose a winner randomly the next day and follow up via email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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