Why Saying Thank You Goes a Long Way

Thursday, April 27, 2023

As a blog tour manager and a public relations consultant, I say a lot of thank you's during my day:

"Thank you for placing my client in the article!"
"Thank you for considering them for your podcast!"
"Thank you for writing your review of that book!"

However, I admit, sometimes I forget. It gets busy. I delay because of other priorities. I say to myself I'll get to it later. And then I don't.

But then, a reminder comes in. And I get an email that says something like this:

"Hi Nicole, 
Did the author read my post? I didn't even get a comment. I spent a lot of time on that post."

A blogger has even asked me to remove them from my list because of this reason. And I feel bad. I wonder, Did I at least leave a comment? And I can't say that I always do, although I try (and I'm getting better at it). 

And sometimes I wonder if I did enough to remind the author to leave comments. Unfortunately, yes, I do. But can't force someone to comment, of course. 

Which is why I decided to write this post.

Whether your expertise or book was shared by Real Simple Magazine or a small blogger that doesn't even own their own domain, a thank you goes a long way.

The funny thing is I also see reporters of established magazines and websites have the same problem. They go a long way for someone and never hear a thank you.

And I'm not sure we always see the benefits of leaving a thank you. And you don't want to say a thank you just because of what you can get out of something.

However, there are things that come from a well-placed thank you. I review books on my blog, and if an author shares a well-thought-out thank you, I'm more likely to review their book again. Or if I get a personal email from them with a thank you, and they invite me to take some next steps (follow them on social media, subscribe to a newsletter, join a review team, etc), I'm far more likely to stay involved.

One of the best things you can do for your book publishing career is a well-placed thank you. No matter what level of the blog, place a thank you. And you know, even if they didn't like your book. No, you don't need to say thank you but try not to get into a snark match with them. That goes a long way too. If you dare, thank them for their honesty.

I just wanted to write this because of my recent experience. Thank you for your time! 

Nicole Pyles is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. When she's not hunting down the right word, she's talking to God, reviewing books on her writing blog, watching movies, hanging out with family, and daydreaming. Her work has been featured in Ripley's Believe it or Not, WOW! Women on Writing, The Voices Project, Sky Island Journal, and Arlington Literary Journal. Her poetry was also featured in the anthology, Dear Leader Tales. Read her musings at WorldofMyImagination.com.

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Idea Generation, Cross Pollination and the Writing Life

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the phrase cross pollination, it is when the pollen from one plant variety fertilizes the flowers of another variety. That’s the botanical definition. It is also when one thing influences or inspires another, such as when your other hobbies and interests influence or inspire your writing. 

It’s something I’ve been thinking about after reading How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson. In his book, Johnson discusses the long-term effects that various inventions have had on society and the world. For example, Guttenberg’s printing press led not only to the proliferation of printed books and increased literacy but also a rise in the use of eyeglasses, the development of lenses, microscopes, and various medical innovations. 

As someone who is predominantly a nonfiction author, it isn’t hard to see why I would love this book. It is cover to cover facts. I learned about early watches, railroad timetables, and time zones. There was a chapter on transporting blocks of ice pre-refrigeration, chilled drinks, and central air conditioning. 

But what Johnson had to say at the end of the book applies, in my not-so-humble opinion, to all writers. He discussed how innovation and invention often came about at the hands of people who had multiple interests and numerous hobbies. Their knowledge in one area was cross pollinated by what they knew about something else. Their dreams were cross pollinated by their experiences in multiple fields. 

The best writers aren’t people who majored in writing and never held any other job. They don’t just sit at their desks day after day and write. They are people who are passionate about many different things.

Among my fellow children’s writers, I’m the oddity. I don’t have a degree in library sciences or education. I’ve never been a classroom teacher. I took three English classes in college. They were all required one way or the other. 

Instead, I bring degrees in anthropology and history to the table. I didn’t take any electives in from the English department, but I did have classes on world cultures, Latin American history, and immigration history.  Then there are my hobbies and the things I do with my family. I knit and crochet, bead and weave. I’ve helped my son clean deer hides while he’s told me about the workings of his 3D printer. I’m getting ready to take apart an old sewing machine so that I can give it a thorough cleaning and get it up and running. Let’s just say that I’m grateful for Youtube’s many videos on cleaning and repairing vintage machines. Next week I’ll be starting a class on sashiko embroidery. 

If you’re stuck and the words aren’t flowing, get up and go do something else. Pick up a discarded hobby. Go see that museum exhibit that you haven’t made it to yet. Feed your passions and get ready for cross pollination to happen. 


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 May 1, 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 May 1, 2023) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins May 1, 2023).
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Interview with Jennifer Braunfels, Fall 2022 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, April 25, 2023
Jennifer Braunfels is a writer and high school English teacher from Maine. Her work has appeared in the Whiskey Tit Journal and on the Free Flash Fiction website. She has received honorable mentions in various Flash Fiction contests. She’s currently working with an amazing editor, putting the final touches on her first novel. You can find out more about her and her writing at jenniferbraunfelsmaineauthor.com. Find Jennifer on Instagram @jennifer_braunfels

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on placing as a runner up in our Fall 2022 Flash Fiction competition! Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “Surrender Ridge?” It’s rather dark!

Jennifer: This story came to me one night when my husband and I watched the sunset up near our summer camp, located a few miles from the largest wind farm in Maine. The farm consists of 56 turbines scattered along a high ridgeline. You can’t appreciate how massive these towers are until you’re close to them. At 308 feet tall, you would think the noise generated by the giant spinning blades would be unbearable, but instead, the hushed whoosh they create as they turn is almost soothing. So you’ve got these enormous steel towers in front of you, but if you shift your gaze, you’ve got this expansive view of vibrant forest and landscape stretching for miles. While watching the sunset on the ridge that night, I started thinking about what a contradiction it is to have these steel giants amid this majestic forest and breathtaking natural scenery. And then I looked at my husband, an Iraq war veteran, and another contradiction came to mind. As a soldier, one day, you’re in the desert, fighting the enemy, the next, you’re back home watching the sunset with your wife. Right then, I knew I had to write a story about a combat soldier set against the backdrop of this wild landscape.

WOW:  Why do you write flash? What makes it different for you?

Jennifer: Writing flash is exciting for me because the whole process feels a lot like a game. You have to tell a complete and compelling story, including polished characters and a finished plot, in a finite number of words. The process forces you to cut out all that’s unnecessary and pare the piece down to the bare bones. When I tell a story or recount something that’s happened to a friend or colleague, it always takes me ten minutes just to get to the story itself. There are tangents and lots of unnecessary details. For many years, that is how I felt about my writing. I’d start a story and then never complete it because the storyline just went on and on. I could never seem to get to an ending. Flash forces me to jump right into the action, introduce evocative characters, and tell an extraordinary story in just 1500 words or less. Writing flash isn’t easy, but dabbling in flash has taught me so much about the writing process.

WOW:  We’d love to know more about your writing routines. Could you tell us when and where you usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?

Jennifer: As a teacher with summers off, I have the luxury of having two months of free time every year. On summer mornings, I get up every morning, pour myself a cup of coffee and head into my study. I close the door behind me, open my laptop, and get down to business. Even if I’m not working on a specific piece, I edit old stories, jot down notes of new story ideas, or just write for the sake of writing with no outcome in mind. I set aside those first two to three hours of my day to be a writer. I find that when the kids are still asleep, and the coffee is still hot, the characters in my head have a lot to say.

The busy school year is a different story. I have to intentionally carve out time to write. I usually find a quiet couple of hours on Saturday and Sunday mornings to sit down and tap away at the keys. Some days, when I get home from work, I sit down and write for an hour or two.

Like all writers, I dream of one day having the time to write for several hours daily.

WOW:  You’re also finishing up your first novel and working with an editor. Can you tell us anything about it, and what your novel writing journey has been like so far?

Jennifer: My first novel, Waiting, opens on the day thirty-year-old Grace moves to a small coastal town in Maine for a year with her (cheating) boyfriend, Liam, to salvage their failing relationship. Her focus quickly shifts when she meets her boisterous new neighbor, a woman twice her age named Annie. The two become instant friends and bond irrevocably when Annie helps Grace through an unexpected miscarriage. As Grace’s relationship with Liam deteriorates, she meets Matthew, who might prove to be her better match. Grace doesn’t begin to seek real change for herself until she accidentally learns that Annie has cancer.

Throughout the novel, we follow Grace's transformative journey of friendship, loss, heartbreak, love, and redemption.

Years ago, after participating in a week-long writers' retreat, my instructor invited me to join a writer's group she’d been running for decades. I joined the group. The first piece the group workshopped was a short story I wrote. The piece was about a friend watching someone they loved die of cancer. My instructor pulled me aside that night and told me that what I had written was, in fact, not a short story but the ending of a novel. She encouraged me to keep writing. Over the next two years, I completed the novel. And then I did what a lot of writers do. I stuck the manuscript in a drawer where it sat for years.

A couple of years ago, I pulled the manuscript out, reread it, and decided that the characters I had created were worth sharing with the world. On the recommendation of a dear colleague, I reached out to a friend of his, a professional editor. I sent her a sample of my work, fully expecting her to tell me it was garbage. But instead, she responded with positive feedback and said she would work with me. Apparently, she thought my characters were worth sharing with the world too.

Much like the main character in my novel, my editor, Courtney, has taken me on a journey that has transformed me into an entirely new writer. I could not have completed this novel without her guidance. I’d need another two pages to tell you everything she’s taught me. So, two years and thousands of hours later, the novel is polished and complete. Now it’s time to search for the right agent for my book.

WOW: Best of luck with your agent search! What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Jennifer: Just keep going. Keep those fingers moving across the keyboard, even if you have nothing to say. And when you’re not writing, read. Immerse yourself in words, and the magic will happen.


For more information about our quarterly Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Essay contests, visit our contest page here.
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Hope Always Rises by Kathie Giorgio: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, April 24, 2023

Welcome to the Hope Always Rises blog tour! This book by Kathie Giorgio is perfect for anyone who has ever known someone who wanted to end their life, or anyone who has ever felt that way themselves. The blog tour starts today and lasts through May 21st!

Enjoy this excerpt of Hope Always Rises...

    I never knew God slept. I certainly never expected him to wear pajamas or have rumpled hair. But if he looked like the God I always imagined, the God with long white hair and a beard and a mustache and a serious, serious face, I never would have been able to rest my head on his shoulder, like I was able to do now.
    I was very glad he wore blue flannel pajamas.
    “You knew you couldn’t expect them to be happy, right, Hope? You knew that,” he said, and wrapped his arm around me. “It was part of your choice to end your life.”
    I turned my face into his chest and wept.
    It had been my choice. I didn’t expect them to be happy.
    But I never thought I would witness their sadness.
    For the first time, I regretted Heaven. I wished for the black void that I thought death might be, that day that I swallowed each pill with a gulp of wine.
    “It’ll be okay, Hope,” God said. Not a booming voice from a burning bush or a dark cloud. A soft voice that soothed me as I cried.

“Giorgio's Hope Always Rises leaves the reader with the one thing it promises: hope. While tackling an emotional subject, suicide, Giorgio doesn't shy away from the pain that brings her characters to the brink, but rather dives into the fragility, confusion, and motivations that accompany the human spirit on that difficult journey. Rich with empathy, humor, and imagination, Giorgio paints a beautiful picture of the afterlife that is a balm for anyone who has ever lost someone.” --Marisa Dondlinger, author of Open and Gray Lines


About the Book

In Heaven, there is a gated community for those who end their lives by choice. This is a complete surprise to Hope, who ends her life one morning on the banks of the Fox River in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Hope has always dealt with deep sadness. From childhood on, she visited therapists, doctors, alternative medicine practitioners, Reiki artists, etc., to no avail. In Heaven, God reassures her that he knows what caused the sadness, but he won’t reveal it yet.

All community residents are required to attend weekly group therapy. Hope’s first group is led by Virginia Woolf. Several of the book’s chapters tell the stories of other members of this group.

Filled with many moments of striking humor, uplifting realizations, and difficult challenges, Hope finds her way in Heaven. She meets many people like herself, who help her restore her forgotten artistic talent and passion, and God himself, who is amazingly human in the most inhuman of ways. Hope finds understanding and forgiveness, and most importantly, friends.

"In Hope Always Rises, Giorgio’s detailed, surprising afterlife is populated with happiness, heartbreak, and small mercies in loving, ever-unfolding measure. Hope’s story, along with those of others in her section of Heaven, offers an intriguing variation on the theme of salvation, this one with a fallible God who enjoys a sangria." – Angela Bier, author of The Accidental Archivist  

 "Hope Always Rises is a beautiful, heartfelt, and surprisingly funny take on the normally uncomfortable topic of suicide. Kathie Giorgio manages to balance Hope’s newfound peace and the harsh reality of the pain she left behind, so that the reader is happy to be pulled into the ups and downs with her. – Nora Murray, author of Kingdom Come

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

ISBN-10: 1685132421
ISBN-13: 978-1685132422
Print length: 342 pages

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

About Author Kathie Giorgio

Kathie Giorgio is the author of seven novels, two story collections, an essay collection, and four poetry collections. Her latest novel, Hope Always Rises, released on February 28, 2023. She’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in fiction and poetry and awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, the Silver Pen Award for Literary Excellence, the Pencraft Award for Literary Excellence, and the Eric Hoffer Award In Fiction. Her poem “Light” won runner-up in the 2021 Rosebud Magazine Poetry Prize. In a recent column, Jim Higgins, the books editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, listed Giorgio as one of the top 21 Wisconsin writers of the 21st century. Kathie is also the director and founder of AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop LLC, an international creative writing studio. Visit her website at www.kathiegiorgio.org.

---- Interview by Michelle Cornish

WOW: Hi, Kathie, and congratulations on the release of Hope Always Rises! There are so many amazing messages in this book. Could you share one or two of your favorites and tell readers how the lesson came about (ie. Did you plan it to be part of the book or did it develop organically as you were writing.)?

Kathie: Without a doubt, the biggest message in Hope, and the message that caused me to write the book, is that we need to stop treating people with major depression as criminals. One of the most common things we hear when someone chooses to end their own life is, “I didn’t know he/she was so sad! I thought everything was fine!” That’s because the depressed person who is feeling like they might not want to be alive anymore can’t talk about it. If they do, the reaction is fast and sharp – a trip to the psych ward. Even the language we use, “committed suicide,” makes suicide a crime. There are those who believe that if someone chooses to end their life, they will go straight to Hell, not Heaven. 

The other most common thing we hear when someone chooses to end their own life is, “That’s so selfish. How could they do that?” Instead, we need to be asking about what kind of pain that person must have been in, to consider suicide as a viable option. I definitely planned this as part of the book when I overheard a conversation between two women who were talking about a “friend” who’d recently chosen to end her life. They talked about how awful she was, a monster, what a terrible thing to leave her husband and family behind. I was in a coffee shop, and before I left, I turned to them and said, “Did it ever occur to you to think about what kind of pain your friend must have been in to make this decision? To make it seem viable and the only way out?” And then I left.

I went home and began to write this book.

WOW: And thank you for doing that! This is such a powerful book that includes so many wonderfully descriptive passages, many of which evoke strong emotions. Do you ever feel what your characters are feeling during the storytelling process? If so, how do you keep going through the more emotional or difficult scenes?

Kathie: I think writers are intensely empathetic people, which is what allows us to go into our characters’ lives and describe them as if they were our lives. Yes, I definitely feel what my characters are feeling, and it can be difficult. The best way to write the more difficult scenes is to not do it one sitting. Take a break. Get a cup of coffee. Take the time to write something else entirely different (I often stop writing a novel to write short stories). Maybe don’t write at all. Read. Go for a walk. 

And then get back to it.

WOW: Did you get any interesting reactions from people when they found out you were writing about God and Heaven? Can you share any with us?

Kathie: I get a lot of raised eyebrows when I describe what this book is about, where it’s set, and mention that God is a main character. I just had a reader, who happens to be a lay minister,  email me. She praised the book, said she had to read it all in one day, but she said she struggled a bit with my concept of God. I thanked her, and asked her why she struggled. She said, “He is all living and all caring. You made me see how human he is, that is what the struggle was. It is a good thing.  Helps me be a bit more open-minded, which I need to be.”

I love that.

WOW: It seems like you aren’t shy about writing about challenging or controversial topics. What advice do you have for other writers wanting to take on these kinds of topics?

Kathie: Brace yourself. Criticism is something we all have to deal with as writers, but if you’re writing on a hot topic, that just invites people to yell at you. Some readers have difficulty separating the writer from what’s on the page. They think you are the character. So if you have a character doing something that you would never do, but you want to talk about the issue, you will likely be accused of doing that very thing, or at the very least, agreeing with it. It can be very hard. It’s always amazing to me how some readers immediately think the fiction writer is writing about themselves, but that the memoirist is making the story up. 

But if the topic is important to you, if you really want to be a part of change in this world, buckle down and write it. Everything helps. 

WOW: So true! Certainly nothing will happen by not writing about these topics. I know you don’t believe in writer’s block. I would love to hear more of your thoughts on this. (I know, that’s not easy in the short time we have here!)

Kathie: No, I don’t believe in writer’s block. I believe in writer’s fear, or writers editing themselves so severely, nothing gets done. There was a New Yorker comic years ago, that showed a writer sitting at his typewriter (see how long ago???). All around him were crumbled-up pieces of paper, where he’d started to write something, then ripped it out and threw it away. At the end of the day, the writer said, “I haven’t gotten anything done all day. I must have writer’s block.”

But he didn’t. He just never gave any of his ideas a chance.

Today, we have a delete key which makes it all too easy to just back out of what we were thinking. Don’t. If you find yourself thinking, Well, that’s just stupid, follow it anyway. Often the “stupid” ideas end up being the best. At least two of my books were “Well, that’s stupid,” books. But I didn’t hit delete. I followed the storyline and it grew into something wonderful.

WOW: Many of our readers write on the side. What advice do you have for writing as a career or business (I know, again, a hard question to answer in such a limited space)?

Kathie: First off, throw away the phrase “full time writer.” You don’t have to write 8 hours a day to be full-time – in fact, it’s pretty damn difficult to write for that many hours in a day. Just say you’re a writer. And then write whenever you can. Write during your lunch hour or your coffee break. Write during your commute, if you’re not the one driving! Give up the idea that writing means spending big chunks of time with it. It doesn’t. Grab fifteen minutes here, a half-hour there. Treat writing seriously, treat yourself seriously. And then don’t give up.

WOW: Did you always want to be a writer? What are some of your favorite things about writing as a career?

Kathie: Always. I don’t remember ever not wanting to be a writer. I’m told I used to take carbon paper and trace the pictures out of my picture books and rewrite the story the way I felt it should be written. 

I feel like, because I’m a writer, I’ve experienced so many things without ever leaving my home or my skin. My empathy and my mind’s eye have allowed me to experience the lives of thousands of characters, all lives different than my own. Most people, when they grow up, give up pretending and imagination. A writer doesn’t. We are always playing, even if our games become more serious as we get older. 

Writing has given me a rich life. I’m grateful for that.

WOW: Thank you so much, Kathie! It's been fun getting to know you and your book. Here at WOW! Women on Writing, we wish you all the best with Hope Always Rises and your continuing author career.

---- Blog Tour Calendar

April 24th @ The Muffin
Join us as we celebrate the blog tour launch of Hope Always Rises by Kathie Giorgio. You'll have the chance to read an interview with the author and win a copy of the book.

April 26th @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Stop by to read Lisa's interview with Kathie Giorgio.

April 27th @ A Storybook World
Join Deirdra as she features Hope Always Rises.

April 29th @ The Faerie Review
Join Lily as she shares a spotlight of Hope Always Rises.

April 30th @ Madeline Sharples' Blog
Stop by Madeline's blog to read a guest post from Kathie about selling 14 books to traditional presses in 13 years. 

May 1st @ The Mommies Reviews
Join Glenda as she reviews Hope Always Rises. 

May 3rd @ Michelle Cornish's blog
Read Michelle's interview with Kathie Giorgio.

May 5th @ The Mommies Reviews
Join Glenda as she shares a guest post from the author about balancing a writing career and raising children.

May 6th @ World of My Imagination
Stop by Nicole's blog where Kathie Giorgio is a guest for "Three Things on a Saturday Night."

May 8th @ Mindy McGinnis’s blog
Stop by Mindy’s blog to read a guest post about writing the hard stuff.

May 10th @ Create Write Now
Stop by Create Write Now to read a guest post by Kathie about having your books banned. 

May 13th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion
Join Linda as she interviews author Kathie Giorgio.

May 15th @ Life According to Jamie
Join us as Jamie reviews Hope Always Rises.

May 16th @ Michelle Cornish's blog
Stop by to read a guest post about how and why Kathie is both a plotter and a pantser.

May 18th @ Freeing the Butterfly
Read a guest post from Kathie Giorgio about dealing with depression.

May 19th @ Nikkie's Book Reviews
Stop by Nicole's blog to read her review of Hope Always Rises.

May 20th @ Freeing the Butterfly
Check out Michelle's review of Hope Always Rises.

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

Enter to win a copy of Hope Always Rises by Kathie Giorgio! Fill out the Rafflecopter form by May 7th at 11:59 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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Include the Unexpected in Your Writing

Saturday, April 22, 2023
Music moves us, physically and emotionally. It gets our toes tapping, our fingers snapping, and our hair flipping (if we’re channeling Beyoncé, that is). 

As writers, some of us rely on a trusted playlist in the background, to coax the muse. Others prefer silence. I fall somewhere in the middle, listening to songs only to warm me up. And by warming up, I don’t mean my pipes. I mean, to get my fingers on keyboard, ‘cuz trust me, no one wants to hear me butcher a melody. After listening to several songs, I turn off the music and find that I’m ready to write (in silence, my preferred way to coalesce my thoughts). 

I often put my iPhone music library in shuffle mode before I write, to surprise myself with songs I may not have listened to in months, sometimes years. The other day, my shuffle mode served up “40 Dogs” by Bob Schneider. YouTube Music includes the song’s lyrics. I took a screen shot of the tab where you can find lyrics (red box, upper right, as well as the play button, lower left). 

Bet you ten bucks that Bob studied poetry at some point, but then again, who knows? I clearly don’t know the guy—but would love to meet him, if only to tell him that his lyrics are clever as hell and that his melody turned into a major earworm for me. 

I love the unexpected ways he uses color in his lyrics to precisely describe not only an action (his example of a cop’s sideways glance), but the resulting feeling his companion’s company stirs in him. The connection he makes is unique, completely unexpected, and memorable. 

Take a minute and pull up his lyrics from the YouTube Music page. Listen to his song. Then tell me if you did as I did: tried to visualize the way comic book cops throw sidelong glances. Think of the exaggerated drawings and facial expressions. The “POW!” and “BAM!” that always shows up in speech bubbles. 

Are you visualizing the cop? The set of his jaw? The question in his eyes? Has someone you’ve known, maybe not a cop but a friend, ever thrown a glance at you like that? For what reason? How does that memory make you feel? 

Bob goes on to compare his companion to “The Wizard of Oz” movie. Remember that part, when Dorothy crosses the door threshold from her sepia toned house into the colorful, magical land of Oz? It’s another unexpected gem that makes Bob’s lyrics memorable. Poetic. 

He goes on to write about the color of a fight. Umm … more, please! He urges his companion to go out with him, presumably on the town, to let loose. He mashes careful and crazy behavior together, and man, I want to be riding shotgun! And, I want to write poetic fragments like that. We all do, as writers. 

I took a poetry workshop two years ago—my first attempt at writing poems—and the instructor suggested I try assigning color to actions and feelings. Listening to “40 Dogs” again the other day, it renewed yet again my appreciation for when writers (songwriters, too!) introduce unexpected phrasings into a piece. The result is often a song chart-topper (or, in our writerly corner of the world, gets an immediate Yes from a literary journal or mainstream publication). 

You can “meet” the poetry workshop instructor who offered me that advice (leading to several of my poems getting published that use color in unexpected ways). I recently interviewed Claire Oleson for the WOW! Markets newsletter to celebrate National Poetry Month in April. 

What unexpected things have you tried with your writing lately? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! 

Ann Kathryn Kelly writes from New Hampshire's Seacoast region. https://annkkelly.com


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What I Do When the Creative Life is Overwhelming

Thursday, April 20, 2023


I’ve had an overwhelming past few weeks. Last week I traveled to tour some prospective colleges with my 17-year-old son, and we were on the road, staying in hotels, and eating out for every meal. By the end we were exhausted and ready to get home. While I was on that trip a podcast interview I did about a stalking incident I lived through in college aired. To be completely transparent, I was so scared of how it turned out I didn’t tell my family right away or listen to it! I waited until I got home before I quietly put my Airpods in and checked it out. I’d had a great conversation with the hosts but after I got off the interview realized I may have rambled on about too much. 

To my relief, the podcast did a great job with editing, and I felt comfortable with the way my story was shared. Then I told my family to listen! While checking emails for my trip, I heard from a local city magazine editor that had recently discovered my true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas. She asked if I was working on anything that they could hook back to their audience, such as an investigation into a current cold case, local disappearance, etc. Again, I was excited for the possibility of exposure but also nagged by the feeling “I’m not doing enough” to be proactive with my podcast. (In my defense, I’m still a one-woman show!) 

I had exchanged pages of my current writing project (a suspense/thriller novel) with my writing accountability group. Their response and notes were so kind, I shed tears of both joy and fear. I’ve had a feeling all along that I may have finally cracked the code of planning and writing a book, after many false starts, and I froze. Their words of encouragement told me, "Keep going with this, and get it finished!"

With all three of these things swirling around in my brain, I took myself out for a long walk yesterday morning. I told myself this is what I do when I get close to succeeding at something—I let myself become paralyzed by fear and imposter syndrome. I immerse myself in other things as a distraction. I let myself stop and chat with a squirrel, inhale the scent of blooming roses, listened to the flowing water of a nearby creek, appreciated how green everything was, and even chatted with a man walking his adorable chiweenie. He called the dog their “grumpy old man,” and said whenever he gets mad, he goes into the master bedroom closet and poops. I told him I could relate—I have a spoiled dachshund and chihuahua mix at my house, too. 

By the time I returned home I was sweaty, but my anxiety had waned. I sat down to write this to get the creative juices flowing. I’m going to devote the rest of the week to making a few inquiries about a cold case I’ve wanted to explore for my podcast and get back to work on editing my novel. This is the life of a writer. 

What do you do when the writing life threatens to overwhelm you? Do you practice self care, indulge in a favorite hobby, or get out in nature? I’d love to hear about it!

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer who also produces the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas
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Interview With Renee Rockland, Fall 2022 Flash Fiction Runner-Up

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

I'm excited to interview Renee Rockland, one of our runners-up in our Fall 2022 Flash Fiction contest. Before you read our interview, make sure you read her story "Her Mark" and then come on back.

First, here's a bit about Renee:

Renee Rockland procrastinates working on her novel by writing short, flash and micro fiction. Her award-winning stories have appeared in a handful of anthologies including Beach Secrets and Beach Holidays (Cat & Mouse Press) and The Year’s Best Dog Stories 2021 (Secant Publishing) as well as a number of online publications.

She is a proud mother of twin girls with whom she barters social media assistance in exchange for editing college papers. Renee resides with her family and a menagerie of rescue and foster dogs in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where she happily hoards books and is a member of the Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild.

---Interview By Nicole Pyles

WOW: First of all, congratulations on winning runner-up! What a touching story you wrote that captured the raw reality of the complications of family. What inspired this idea? 

Renee: The idea was triggered when I overheard a woman say that her mother always told her she looked dead if she wasn't wearing lipstick, and I immediately thought, what if the mother was dead? I'm both a mother and a daughter, and I know it's a complex relationship ripe with endless potential from a writer's perspective. In this case, it was easy to create emotional landmines when I considered the juxtaposition of a daughter who wasn't overly feminine with a mother who was.

WOW: What a fantastic direction you took that moment! I loved the balance of present and past in the story. Why did you decide to write it that way? 

Renee: For me, flash fiction is about a moment in time that could be a launching point for a greater conversation. Once I knew the "moment in time" was going to be the act of applying lipstick (in the present), I broke down that process down into parts to figure out how many examples from the past I would have to showcase their relationship. I knew from the start that the mother was dead, so I always heard the daughter's voice in my head, remembering snippets from her life with her mother as she applied her lipstick.

WOW: I love how you did that. What was your revision process like?

Renee: This was one of those very rare times when what I heard in my head just flowed onto the paper. I wrote it a few days before the contest deadline, so I didn't spend as much time editing it as I normally would. I much prefer editing to writing. I like picking at words and putting away a piece for a few weeks and then returning to it. I didn't have that luxury with the deadline, so instead, I paid for a critique, figuring regardless of what happened with the contest, I would gain some valuable insights that would be helpful if I wanted to submit it elsewhere. And I have to tell you, Nicole, I think it's some of the best money I've ever spent! My critique was thoughtful, generous, and encouraging. One of the reasons I wanted a critique is because I was unsure about the line regarding the boardwalk caricature, and without knowing my ambivalence, the editor who reviewed my piece specifically commented that she loved that line. I got my critique before I learned I was a runner-up, so at that point, I knew that even if I didn't place, it was worth entering because I'd be able to make the piece even stronger. 

WOW: That is so awesome to hear! Why do you enjoy writing short stories and flash fiction? 

Renee: I enjoy writing them for the same reason I enjoy reading them; they're short! LOL! I work full-time, have twin daughters in college who still live at home, am married, have dogs and foster dogs, and try to feed my family something other than take-out every night, so like most women, there just aren't enough hours in the day for everything I want to do. Writing short stories and flash fiction feels achievable given my time constraints, and I like the sense of accomplishment when a piece is finished (as opposed to my novel, which may have to wait until retirement to be completed). I believe our lives are made up of many moments that when considered individually may not seem significant, but when harnessed together, take on greater meaning. I'm always on the lookout for flashes of life that I can translate into stories. It reminds me daily that there really are no insignificant moments.

WOW: I love how you balance it all while keeping a look out for creative inspiration! What are you working on now that you can tell us about?

Renee: I'm currently working on a short story for a Winter Solstice anthology as well as a few stories for Chicken Soup for the Soul, which I was inspired to write after reading about their contests in one of WOW!'s newsletters. 

WOW: I can't wait to see them come out! What advice do you have for writers who are uncertain about sharing their work with the world? 

Renee: I would give them the same advice I give myself: take a deep breath, and then, as Nike coined, just do it. Yes, it's scary, but seriously, what's the worst that's going to happen? You'll be rejected. You'll still have your health. Your family will still love you (as long as feed them), and that laundry is not going to fold itself. So I've learned to reframe my rejections by saying, "Well, I guess I just didn't submit that piece to the right place." It's almost like a game to see if I can find the right match for my work. I firmly believe that there are countless brilliant pieces of writing in the Universe that just haven't found the right conduit to allow them to be widely shared. If writers had a matchmaking service for our work, we'd all be better off! Until then, be your own matchmaker...your work will find a home beyond the confines of your own.

WOW: I think you just uncovered the next great idea! A writing match-making service! So, do you have a particular writing ritual you like to do that you can tell us about? 

Renee: Yes, it involves using chocolate chips as a reward system for word count. It's not one chocolate chip per word, but I will tell you, I should probably increase the ratio. Beyond that, I brew a cup of calming mint tea in my mug that says, "Now or Never," beg my family to leave me alone, and close my office door. And if the interruptions are too great to find my flow, I get up in the middle of the night, making good use of my menopause-induced insomnia.

WOW: Your chocolate idea is golden, and I may use that myself. Best of luck on your writing! 
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I Chose You by Carmen Leal: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, April 17, 2023

I Chose You by Carmen Leal

I am excited to introduce you to this charming book that is a must-read for anyone who loves or has ever loved a dog. Continue on for more information about the book, an interview with the author, and a chance to win a copy for yourself. 

But first, here's a bit about the book:

For every pet parent who knows there's no such thing as 'just a dog,' this collection of uplifting glimpses into the lives of ordinary-turned-extraordinary dogs and the people who love them is a tail-wagging good read.

Thanks to the rescue dog who saved her life after a traumatic brain injury, Carmen Leal went from saying she'd never have a dog to becoming an advocate for man's best friend. Carmen volunteered at the local rescue shelter by writing bios and social media posts, applying for grants, and helping to save and re-home over 6,500 dogs from a high-kill shelter. This endearing anthology includes stories that celebrate the bond between canines and humans including:

  • Buddy the beagle who went from living chained under a porch to becoming the town's only therapy dog
  • Heavenly Joy, the frightened Chihuahua who changed the life of a grumpy old man
  • Bogey, an abandoned mixed-breed trained by prison inmates and adopted by his forever family

I Chose You is a collection of memorable, beautifully written stories of dogs rescued by people and, ultimately, people rescued by dogs. If you like four-legged friends and happy endings, you'll love Carmen Leal's touching collection of heart-warming stories.

Fetch a copy of I Chose You, the feel-good book that resonates with anyone who has ever loved a dog. 

Publisher: Wag Away Publishing
ISBN-10: 1955309035
ISBN-13: 978-1955309035
Print Copy Pages: 264 pages

Purchase a copy for yourself on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Bookshop.org. Make sure you also add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Praise About the Book

“I’m so thrilled to discover this beautiful collection of stories featuring these imperfectly perfect rescue pups. I Chose You has won my heart!” — Janice Thompson, author of Paws for Reflection: 50 Devotions for Dog Moms 

“Great read! Nothing in life is perfect except unconditional love. I Chose You captures that choice!”  — Adrian Palmer, Board of Directors Medical Advisor Australian Shepherds Furever Rescue
“The best prescription I can write for trauma survivors, veterans with PTSD, and others with mental health issues, is the healing power of dogs. I Chose You is the perfect gift for yourself or a dog lover and a wonderful reminder of the unbreakable bond between canines and their people.”  —Angela Miller, Licensed Professional Therapist 

About the Author, Carmen Leal

Carmen Leal is a storyteller and the author of multiple books, articles, devotionals, and human-interest stories. Carmen relocated from Hawaii to Oshkosh—yes, there is a story behind the move—and has become an awesome dog mom. Carmen and her husband have become reluctant gardeners and know a crazy amount about Wisconsin weeds. She is the mother of two sons, two incredible grandsons, and Coconut, the best imperfectly perfect rescue dog in the world. Learn more about Carmen and Coconut by visiting carmenleal.com. 
--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First of all, congratulations on your book! What inspired this memoir? 

Carmen: After my traumatic brain injury, we moved from Hawaii to Wisconsin, where my son lives. My doctor had suggested I adopt a dog as I was suffering from level 10 migraines, PTSD, and was suicidal. After I adopted Coconut, he truly did save my life. I decided to begin volunteering to help the rescue shelter, and so for four years, I wrote bios and grant and social media content. We rescued over 6,500 dogs from a high-kill shelter in Kentucky and found homes for them here in Northeastern Wisconsin. In September of 2021I decided to write a book so that I could donate a portion of the proceeds to NEW PAWSibilities

WOW: Wow, what an incredible account of how Coconut came to be in your life and how he saved you. So, how did you compile all of these wonderful stories in your book? 

Carmen: I started with posting a request on the rescue’s Facebook to see if anyone could share their stories. Then I did the same on my own personal Facebook account. Stories started coming in, some from professional writers, but most from people who simply had a great rescue dog story. 

WOW: I love that! I also love that you started your own publishing company, Wag Away Publishing (I LOVE the name!). What led you to start this company? 

Carmen: When I decided to write the book, I knew I wanted to self-publish for several reasons. I would be able to get the book faster than I would with traditional publishing, I’d have more control and be able to share my vision in my way, and I’d get to keep all the royalties, and that would give me more to donate. I had written a tagline for the rescue and I wanted to pay homage to them by using a variation of it in some way. Love is just a wag away is what I wrote and so Wag Away Publishing made sense. 

WOW: Having that control can mean so much in the writing journey! How has it been to publish your book through your own publishing company? 

Carmen: Honestly, it’s like coming home. My first book was also a passion project so that I could donate to an organization that would help to find a cure for the disease that ultimately took my late husband’s house. David suffered from Huntington’s disease and because it is such a rare disease, I knew no publisher would want to publish for such a small market and also one by an unknown author. I self-published Faces of Huntington’s and Portraits of Huntington’s in 1998 and 2000. I have also gone with traditional publishers and so going on my own for this series made sense. 

WOW: Absolutely. So, what is your writing (and publishing) process? 

Carmen: I have one of those brains where I map everything out before I start writing. I can’t write without a title and subtitle. Once I have that I craft the call for stories and start a website. Then I research. I adore research, it’s my absolute favorite part of the book. Then. Start putting all the pieces together. I write about four hours every morning and then I edit it all before the day is over. It takes about six or eight weeks to get a pretty solid draft. I’ve always used professional cover designers and editors because I don’t want to learn those skills. Over the years I have connected with many professionals while teaching at writer’s conferences and it’s one of those people who I reconnected with. Her company is a hybrid publishing company and that allowed me to do what I do best. 

WOW: That's great how you have it all set in place! I loved reading how Coconut turned you into a dog person. How did he find you? 

Carmen: My doctor in Hawaii suggested a dog and so a few months after relocating we went to the only shelter open on the day that we decided to look for a dog. We met a few, but none of them seemed to notice I was in the room. My husband, the dog magnet, grabbed all of their attention. I suggested that since we were getting my emotional support dog, it would help to choose one who came to me first rather than not at all. The counselor, who I later learned was the owner of the rescue, agreed and asked me about what I wanted in a dog. I told him I wanted one that didn’t bark, jump on people, lick, or get on furniture. I wanted a dog that wasn’t annoying. Jim laughed and said he had the perfect dog. He came back into the visiting room with this little brown dog with a long black tail. He had been there for three weeks and no one ever asked to meet him. I guess he was mine from the minute he got rescued in Kentucky. 

WOW: It was meant to be! I loved reading how every proceed goes to a dog shelter. Can you tell me about the shelter you are partnering with? 

Carmen: Second Chance Shelter is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, no-kill dog shelter in Boaz, Alabama dedicated to saving the lives of dogs who are scheduled to be euthanized the day they are rescued. Once they are spayed or neutered, have all of their vaccinations, and are ready to travel, they come to Northeastern Wisconsin. The sister group is Second Chance North, a foster-to-adoption group who works to help these dogs find their happily ever after families. 

WOW: How incredible! Now, you invite people to submit their stories to you! How can people do that? 

Carmen: The first step is to visit https://wagawaypublishing.com/sample-stories to read sample stories from the first book of the Wag Away Tale series. I finally have a title for book number two! Rescued Love: Second-Chance Dogs and Their Happily Ever After Tales will follow that same format and cover many of the same themes. People can learn more at https://wagawaypublishing.com/submit-a-story. The deadline has been extended for people who are reading about it through these blogs and interviews. I have saved space for what I know will be some awesome stories. People can also email me at carmen[at]carmenleal[dot]com for more information. People do not need to be a professional writer. Some of my favorite stories from I Chose You are ones where people trusted me to share their stories after they emailed me what I call a brain dump. 

WOW: I hope many WOW readers take advantage of contributing their stories! In addition to the next in the series for I Chose You, what else are you working on? 

Carmen: I have gotten the rights back from a marketing book I wrote and I will be releasing that book next year. I finally have a title which is such a big deal for me. This book is for anyone who wants to learn more about how to market their book whether it’s self-published or it has gone through a traditional route. The Art of Ask: How to Market Your Book Without Doing Stuff You Hate. I also got the rights back for a series of four gift books based on Psalm Twenty-Three. I’ll be adding a few more stories and packaging all four into one book for those who are going through difficult times. I’m still working on that title. 

WOW: Both books sounds like amazing contributions to the reading world! What do you hope people take away from reading I Chose You

Carmen: The first and most important thing I want people to take away is that the right dog at the right time changes everything. I also want people to know that you don’t have to adopt to save a life. You can volunteer, foster, donate money, buy dog food, or use your own unique gifts and talents to make a difference. And the last thing is that there are tons of resources to help you be the best dog parent ever. I have a Facebook dog community and we would love your readers to join us at https://www.facebook.com/rescuemoredogs.

WOW: Best of luck to you! I can't wait to see what you come out with next!

I Chose You: Imperfectly Perfect Rescue Dogs and Their Humans by Carmen Leal Blog Tour

--- Blog Tour Calendar

April 17th @ The Muffin
Join us at WOW as we celebrate the launch of I Chose You by Carmen Leal. Read an interview with the author and enter for a chance to win a copy of the book.

April 18th @ Pages & Paws
Join Kristine for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

April 18th @ Rockin Book Reviews
Visit Lu Ann's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

April 20th @ Pages & Paws
Visit Kristine's blog again for a guest post by the author about the lifesaving value of dogs.

April 22nd @ A Wonderful World of Words
Visit Joy's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal. You can also win a copy of the book too!

April 24th @ Finished Pages
Join Renee for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

April 24th @ Writer, Writer Pants on Fire
Join Mindy for a guest post by Carmen Leal about the challenges facing rescues and shelters post-COVID.

April 25th @ Barbara Barth's Art and Words
Join Barbara for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

April 26th @ A Storybook World
Join Deirdra's blog for a guest post by Carmen Leal about buying a home long distance and the challenges of living in a house built in 1875.

April 28th @ The Mommies Review
Join Glenda for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

April 30th @ Seaside Book Nook
Visit Jilleen's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 1st @ World of My Imagination
Visit Nicole's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 2nd @ Literary Quicksand
Visit Joli's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 3rd @ Beverley A. Baird's blog
Join Beverley for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 4th @ Knotty Needle
Join Judy's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 5th @ Adventures With Canines
Join Sara's blog for a guest post by Carmen Leal about her upcoming books and how your readers can be featured in my next rescue dog book.

May 6th @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Join Lisa for her interview with Carmen Leal about her book I Chose You.

May 7th @ What Is That Book About
Join Michelle for a feature of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 8th @ Adventures With Canines
Visit Sara's blog again for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 10th @ Beverley A. Baird's blog
Visit Beverley's blog again for a guest post by Carmen Leal about moving from Hawaii to Wisconsin after 60 and how to make a new life.

May 11th @ The Mommies Review
Visit Glenda's blog again for a guest post by Carmen Leal about why rescuing a dog makes sense.

May 13th @ Storeybook Reviews
Visit Leslie's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 14th @ Book Reviews from an Avid Reader
Visit Joan's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 15th @ Word Magic
Join Fiona for a guest post by Carmen Leal about the difference between a rescue, shelters, and fostering.

May 18th @ Liberate and Lather
Join Angela for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 21st @ Balance and Joy
Visit Sheri's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

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

Enter to win a copy of I Chose You: Imperfectly Perfect Rescue Dogs and Their Humans by Carmen Leal! Fill out the Rafflecopter form by April 30th at 11:59 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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Feathers of the Phoenix by Cheryl Carpinello - Review Event & Giveaway

Friday, April 14, 2023

Today, I'm excited to announce a special reader review event for Feathers of the Phoenix: The Atlantean Horse by Cheryl Carpinello. This book is perfect for those intrigued by Greek myths, Atlantis, and thrilling adventures. 

We'll be sharing insights from WOW! readers who had the opportunity to review this book. You will also have the chance to read more about the author and win a copy of the book for yourself.

But first, here's more about the book:

One Epic Task
The Chosen:  Rosa and Jerome: Two cousins as close as sister and brother.
The Task:  Find and retrieve the Five Feathers of the Phoenix to raise Atlantis for its people to return home.
The Opponents: The Four Deadly Horsemen of the Apocalypse, vessels of evil avarice.

Called upon by a visitor from a mythical city, Rosa and Jerome embark upon a perilous quest to retrieve the First of Five Feathers of the fabled Phoenix.

Little do they realize that something more personal awaits them amid the danger. 

Rosa’s kept her special gift hidden from all, kept it far in the Past, but now it will have to be revealed. Jerome’s yet to discover his special gift.

Join them as they risk all in their search for the First Feather!

Publisher: Silver Quill Publishing (September 2022)
Genre: Middle Grade Adventure, Fantasy, Mythology
Length: 149 pages
ISBN-10: ‎1804401315
ISBN-13: ‎978-1804401316

Purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.com, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble. Be sure to also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

Feathers of the Phoenix: The Atlantean Horse by Cheryl Carpinello Giveaway

What WOW Readers Thought:

"For middle grade readers who love adventure, fantasy, and mythology, all packed into a quick read--perfect for kids who find "fat books" intimidating. Young readers will be on the edge of their seats as these cousins face danger and challenges at every turn!" — AJ Kormon

"I thought the book had a really interesting storyline. It’s short and easy to read which is great for middle grades. I do think that the characters, Rosa and her cousin Jerome could have been a little younger (Rosa is 17) because they way they are portrayed and act seems more aligned with a younger teen like maybe a 13 year old. Overall, it was a engaging and quick read." — Jamie W.

"This is a nice quick read for older kids and an engaging read for middle grade students. Engaging and interesting; full of secrets and surprises!" — Crystal Otto

"I really enjoyed this book. The description of the setting—an island I had never heard of called Kalymnos—was so well done that I felt I was right there. I love legends and mythology, and Atlantis is one that is not featured in as many books, so I was intrigued by the Atlantean elements.

The pace of the book was fast with many cliffhangers, and the mystery was intriguing enough to keep me engaged. The characters Rosa and her cousin Jerome were believable and likeable.

If there was one flaw, it was that the references to a previous story that Rosa had been in made things a bit confusing at first. However, eventually I caught on and reading went smoother after that.

This is the first in a series, and the book left me wanting to read more of the story." — Linda Schueler

"What a great book! I thought the descriptions were so vivid. The author has an excellent way of making you feel as if you were there. I've always been intrigued by the Atlantis legend and I love how the author sweeps you into the mystery. This is great for a young reader and it's really easy to read. I absolutely recommend!"  — Nicole Pyles

"I’m a huge fan of anything to do with Atlantis. Just say the word and I’m there. Having read the start of Rosa’s adventures in Sons of the Sphinx, I was also keen to see where her gift had taken her. I was not disappointed. Author Cheryl Carpinello sets the scene right away with a mysterious, yet familiar stranger who appears to tell Rosa she is needed again. This is a special and possibly perilous mission that just happens to coincide with Rosa and her cousin Jerome’s visit to a small, out of the way (can you even find it on the map?) island called Kalymnos in the Mediterranean, near Greece. From the moment they arrive and their mission is revealed – to find the first of the Five Feathers of the Phoenix – danger and a deadly enemy stalk them. I won’t give too much away but suffice to say there is enough action, adventure, intrigue, mystery, history, mythology, and legends to please young (and young at heart readers) who find the ancient world and its stories fascinating. The story arc is complete but refers to the next adventure in store. After all, there are five feathers so one down, four more to go!

"Cheryl Carpinello does not dumb down the writing for middle grade and young adult readers, and parents (who might also enjoy dipping into the book) will appreciate a high level of complexity and vocabulary to keep readers on their toes and learning new words as they embark on this adventure with Rosa and Jerome. There is enough new information to delight readers who already enjoy history and mythology and to encourage readers new to the series to read further. The author refers to Rosa’s previous adventure a few times so, to put everything into context, I’d recommend reading Sons of the Sphinx as well to catch up on Rosa’s gift. The book includes end notes on mythology, Atlantis, biblical lore, and the actual islands of Kalymnos and Telendos mentioned. This book would be a great addition to any history class to encourage young readers to enjoy reading more about the past and learning from it." —  Fiona Ingram

"Trying to find books Charlie will actually sit down and read is as hard as pulling a tooth. This week I handed Charlie's friend Ronnie my copy of  Feathers of the Phoenix: The Atlantean Horse. I asked Ronnie to let me know what he thought of the story. Charlie seeing Ronnie read the story decided he would read the book as well.

Once they finished the book Charlie let me know he thought this story would be perfect for Middle Schoolers. While Ronald said he thought David Charlie's dad would enjoy the story. I agreed with both boys on who they thought would enjoy this story. Although some people might be turned off by the blood.

 Feathers of the Phoenix: The Atlantean Horse is a adventure book that will keep the reader interested from the first word to the end of the book. It's a fast read that is the first in a series. I’m always on the lookout for new fantasy series for my son and my husband." —  Glenda Cates

About the Author, Cheryl Carpinello

"I love mythology, myths, legends, and tales from the ancient/medieval worlds. I believe in magic and unicorns! I write for young readers and teens, particularly those Reluctant Readers. My Arthurian stories serve as an introduction to the King Arthur Legend. Readers find themselves steeped in the Legend through fun and sometimes dangerous adventures. These stories exhibit the cornerstones of that Legend: Courage, Honor, Loyalty, & Friendship. My tales from Egypt & my new series Feathers of the Phoenix meld the ancient/medieval worlds with today. My Grandma/Grandpa’s Tales, short illustrated tales, help youngest readers build their reading skills."

Find her online:

WOW: First of all, congratulations on your book Feathers of the Phoenix: The Atlantean Horse! I’m a huge fan of the Atlantis themes in books. What inspired you to write a book about this myth? 

Cheryl: I’m also a fan of Atlantis, Nicole. I’ve read numerous books and watched numerous TV shows dealing with Atlantis. There have been so many stories about how it sank, why it sank, and where it was located. It just fired my imagination. I’ve always believed Atlantis belonged to ancient world around the Mediterranean Sea. So that is why The Atlantean Horse is set on an island there. 

WOW: That's amazing! What kind of research did you do in preparation for your book? 

Cheryl: Actually most of my research was done before I even started thinking about writing about Atlantis. I love the Ancient World. For over 20 years, I taught the stories, plays, and poems written by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Each of these left distinct and colorful images in my brain. When I decided to explore these worlds, my research was nearly finished. What I had left to do was explore the islands of Kalymnos and Telendos via the Internet. One of these days, I’ll visit those islands. 

WOW: What an incredible trip that will be! I love that you focus on myths and legends in your books. How do you decide what to write about? 

Cheryl: As a high school English teacher for over 20 years, I encountered so many students who didn’t like to read. I first started writing stories from Arthurian Legend because it encouraged those reluctant readers to actually start reading. They, as others, were drawn to the cornerstones of the Legend: Courage, Friendship, Honor, and Loyalty. My students also embraced the stories from the ancient worlds. So I also chose to write my Tales from the Ancient Worlds. Hopefully by writing these Tales & Legends, I can encourage these students and others to read more. 

WOW: I believe you do! I LOVE the cover of your book. Did you work with the designer at all? 

Cheryl: I work with Chris Berge, owner of Berge Design. He does such a great job. Chris has designed all of my Arthurian and Ancient World covers. I usually have an idea of what I want so I do some awful sketches of my own, and find a couple of images. I send all to Chris and he works miracles!

WOW: How exciting that process is! Did you know how this story would end before you started it? 

Cheryl: To a certain degree, yes. Sometimes, though, my characters take control and write their own ending. Without revealing anything, that’s what happened in The Atlantean Horse. And to be honest, that’s happens in all my stories! 

WOW: I love when characters take control. What are you working on now that you can tell us about? 

Cheryl: Oh yes! I’m writing book 2 of Feathers of the Phoenix: Under the Norse Star. Rosa and Jerome find themselves in 800-900 Iceland looking for the second Phoenix feather. Life doesn’t always go as one images or wants. That’s all I’m going to say!

WOW: I cant wait to read it! Best of luck on your next book!

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

Enter to win a copy of Feathers of the Phoenix: The Atlantean Horse by Cheryl Carpinello! Fill out the Rafflecopter form by April 27th at 11:59 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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