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Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Give Me Just a Minute

Have you ever come across those industrious writers—usually the ones who’re juggling upteen plates in the air—who recommend grabbing every little bit of time to write? 

You know who I mean…you’re waiting in the car line? Write! It’s intermission at the theater? Write! Sitting in the doc’s office, half-naked and shivering? WRITE! 

Yep, some writers just need a minute to get creative writing done. But not me. I need an hour of time I can commit to if I’m going to write anything more than a grocery list. Not that I haven’t tried but it’s just an exercise in futility. I need to know I’ve got a whole hour to relax into the process. Anything less and I’m in panic mode, rushing about and basically writing up a hot mess. 

But that doesn’t mean I can’t get other sort-of-writing tasks done in smaller increments of time. The same tasks that, once out of the way, free up my schedule to get that whole hour of writing in. For instance, give me thirty minutes and I can get a raft of research done! 

Say I need to check out author websites in my genre to see the standard; I can search three or four and take notes in thirty minutes. Maybe I’ve got an article on a subject that’s fuzzy on a detail or two. Give me a half hour and I’ll find specifics to support. Or maybe—which happens more often than I like to admit—I have a technology problem. In twenty minutes, I can hunt down and watch a video that’ll fix the glitch in a magical moment. 

What about fifteen minutes? There’s plenty I can accomplish in a quarter hour! I can read a newsletter (there are always a handful in my Inbox). And speaking of the Inbox, I can zip through my emails, tossing the ads that sneak through and maybe even quickly respond to a personal email. And beyond the Inbox, I can make a quick correction, whether it’s a blog post or a website error. I might even do a quick sweep in social media, given fifteen minutes. 

But maybe I have only five minutes to spare. If I’m watching a program, I’ll clean out my junk mail during a commercial. (Yep, I still watch regular TV with commercials.) And often, especially if I’ve been sitting for much of the day, I’ll walk around during commercial breaks, especially if I’m watching news. By the end of the newscast, I’ve done close to 20 minutes of brisk walking and I’m surprisingly rejuvenated for evening work that’s waiting. 

And sometimes, even if I just have a few seconds, I can get a task done. Today, I glanced at my To Do list on the kitchen table and realized I had an upcoming blog post here. That thought was floating around in my head until suddenly, in the seconds before I sprayed the cleaner on the floor and started to mop, I had this very idea about grabbing minutes for other tasks! So I grabbed a notepad and made a couple notes. I knew later in the afternoon, I’d have an hour to write. 

It’s all about time management, y’all. Give me a minute—or sixty—and I can get a whole lot of work done. (Except when I’m sitting in the doc’s office. Who can think when they’re half-naked?)

Monday, August 28, 2023

The Unshakeable Road to Love by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna: Blog Tour & Giveaway

The Unshakeable Road to Love by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna

I'm so excited to announce the launch of another blog tour: The Unshakeable Road to Love by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna. This book is perfect for those who want to heal their relationships and learn the secret truths about love. Continue reading to find out more about this incredible book and learn more about the author. You also have a chance to win a copy for yourself!

But first, here's a bit more about The Unshakeable Road to Love:

The Unshakeable Road to Love (Value Centered Relationships) is based upon Eternal Principles from all world scriptures, including Zen. These tried and true Eternal Principles, the Pillars of Love, show how to build foundations for relationships where happiness and well-being are inevitable. And where pain and conflict can dissolve on the spot. 

A radically different approach to love and psychology, the book offers a completely new perspective on fulfillment and what is truly needed to thrive. For example, one of the Pillars of Love upon which the book is based is:

To Be Happy, You Do Not Have To Be Loved, You Have to Learn What It Means to Be Loving.  

The book explores the difference between Real and Counterfeit Love. We discover how all suffering in relationships is due to being caught in the trap of Counterfeit Love. And how easy it is to break free from bondage and leave that trap behind.

This is a book of practice, filled with Turning Points, Pillars of Love, Interventions, and many enjoyable exercises so the reader can practice these principles in all their relationships and in their everyday lives.

Written by a psychologist, Interfaith Counselor, and long-term Zen practitioner, the book combines the practices and principles of both East and West, helping us to discover and celebrate the best in ourselves and others.

Publisher: Brenda Shoshanna (October 2022)
ISBN-10: 1094378046
ISBN-13: 978-1094378046
Print length: 208 pages

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

About the Dr. Brenda Shoshanna

Brenda Shoshanna is an award-winning author, psychologist, Interfaith counselor, and long-term Zen practitioner and speaker. Her work is dedicated to integrating the teachings of East and West and making them real in our everyday lives. Brenda has offered over five hundred talks and workshops on all aspects of personal and spiritual development, relationships, and living an authentic, meaningful life.

You can find her online at:

---- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: Congratulations on your book! What inspired you to write this?

Brenda: I was inspired to write The Unshakeable Road to Love during the Covid epidemic and beyond, as we all went through severe disruptions to our relationships due to the lockdowns and inevitable distancing that followed. The sense of loneliness, anxiety and isolation that developed has become an epidemic of its own. I strongly felt that a solution to loneliness was deeply needed and that I had the experience to explore this. 

WOW: What a beautiful insight. Why do you think the book is needed for people today?

Brenda: Having worked for many years as a psychologist, Interfaith Counselor and Zen practitioner, I’d come to realize that the wrenching pain of loneliness and emptiness could be dissolved rather easily through the experience of Real love. It was also clear that the pain and disconnection we feel in relationships is due to being caught in the mazes of Counterfeit love. 

WOW: Interesting! Did you do research, what was that like?

Brenda: In the book I explore the crucial difference between Real and Counterfeit Love, and show how Real love can heal conflict and suffering on the spot. My research was based upon years of practice, including books written and endless workshops presented on creating meaningful, fulfilling relationships. 

WOW: I love that. What advice do you have for people on incorporating more love into their lives?

Brenda: The Unshakeable Road to Love offers a radically new look at psychology, love and relationships. It is based upon eternal principles found in all world scriptures, including Zen. I call these eternal truths Pillars of Love. They become the basis for building a foundation in relationships that cannot falter, or fail.

This is a book of practice. The book is filled with many exercises, Turning Points, and Interventions so that the reader can apply the material directly to their everyday lives. Here are some Pillars of Love which the book is based upon is: 

You Do Not Have To Be Loved To Be Happy. You Have to Learn What It Means To Be Loving. As Counterfeit love is often confused with Real love, we examine Counterfeit Love carefully, and the ways of turning it around. 

Rather than look for what we can get from someone, how they can meet our needs, we focus upon what we can give. We Don’t Give to Get, We Give For The Joy of Giving.

Pain Is Inevitable When We Turn A Person Into An Object to Meet Our Needs. This attitude is a foundation of Counterfeit Love. 

Instead of using a person to make us happy, We View Each Person As Our Teacher In What It Means To Love

As we explore the art of having a real conversation, We Learn How To Listen and To Hear

And, as we Let Go of The Quest for Power and Control and the anger that comes with it, soon we are filled with Real love. It is impossible to be loving and lonely at the same time. 

WOW: Great wisdom. What do you hope readers will take away from reading your book?

Brenda: Real love fills us completely and heals our hungry hearts. The exercises in the book can be practiced daily, with everyone we meet. Before we know it, our response to others changes, as we see all as they truly are.

My wish is that readers will not only enjoy these exercises, but discover that real love is abundantly available, and that the more you give it, the more fulfilled you will be.

WOW: That's awesome! What lasting thoughts do you want to leave with your readers?

Brenda: You Are Never Upset By What Happens, But By The Way You Respond To It. You may not be able to take charge of what happens, but you are always able to take charge of how you respond. This book helps us to do that, and leave conflict and upset behind. Talks and workshops based upon the book are available. Contact Brenda at;

WOW: Thank you, Brenda! Best of luck on the tour!

The Unshakeable Road to Love Blog Tour

---- Blog Tour Calendar

August 28th @ The Muffin
Join us as we celebrate the launch of The Unshakeable Road to Love by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna. We interview the author and give you a chance to win a copy of the book for yourself.

August 30th @ Create Write Now
Visit Mari's blog for a guest post by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna about what is a true conversation.

August 30th @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Lisa interviews author Dr. Brenda Shoshanna about her book The Unshakeable Road to Love.

September 1st @ Word Magic
Join Fiona who shares a guest post by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna about the simple laws of love. 

September 5th @ Choices
Madeline shares a guest post by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna about the end of loneliness.

September 10th @ A Storybook World
Join Deirdra's blog for a guest post by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna about the difference between real love and counterfeit love.

September 10th @ Just Katherine
Join Katherine's blog featuring an excerpt from Dr. Shoshanna's book The Unshakeable Road to Love.

September 13th @ Katherine Itacy's blog
Join Katherine for her review of The Unshakeable Road to Love by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna.

September 15th @ The Faerie Review
Don't miss Lily's review of The Unshakeable Road to Love by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna.

September 18th @ Thoughts of Maddness
Visit Maddie's blog for her review of The Unshakeable Road to Love by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna.

September 19th @ Just Katherine
Join Katherine again for a guest post by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna about how to dissolve conflict and pain in relationships on the spot.

September 20th @ Author Anthony Avina's blog
Join Anthony for his feature of an excerpt from The Unshakeable Road to Love by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna.

September 22nd @ My Beauty, My Books
Join Nikki for her review of The Unshakeable Road to Love and the chance to read an excerpt of the book.

September 25th @ School Librarian In Action
Join Zarah for her review of The Unshakeable Road to Love by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna.

September 29th @ The Frugalista Mom
Join Rochie's blog for her review of The Unshakeable Road to Love by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna.

September 30th@ Jill Sheets' blog
Visit Jill's blog for her review of The Unshakeable Road to Love by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna.

October 1st @ Jill Sheets' blog
Jill interviews author Dr. Brenda Shoshanna about her book The Unshakeable Road to Love.

October 1st @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion
Join Linda for her fascinating interview with Dr. Brenda Shoshanna about her book The Unshakeable Road to Love.

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

Enter to win a copy of The Unshakeable Road to Love: Value Centered Relationships by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna! Fill out the Rafflecopter form for a chance to win. The giveaway ends September 10th at 11:59 PM CT. We will choose a winner the next day and announce in the Rafflecopter form and follow up via email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Interview with Elinor S. Laurier, Runner Up in the WOW! Q3 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest


Elinor S. Laurier writes mostly short non-fiction works and enjoys travel, long hikes, and spending time with her loved ones. Often, you can find her at her favorite local bookstore, where she gobbles up carrot cake and books in equal measure. She and her husband call Arizona home. Twitter handle: @ElinorLaurier. 

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

 WOW: Congratulations, Elinor! “Flip” is a realistic portrait of how Alzheimer’s disease affects more than just the person affected—it can affect the generations to follow. What was the process like unpacking this difficult topic in essay form? 

Elinor: Early onset Alzheimer’s affects individuals decades before the more usual form of the disease, and is inherited via a dominant gene. I don’t think there’s a lot of public awareness about EOA, because it strikes just a very small percentage of the population. If a person has a parent who carries the gene, there’s a 50% chance of inheriting it. The disease progression, once it begins, tends to be much faster than the typical Alzheimer’s patient. Tragically, it’s currently affecting my ex-husband, who is just 53. So, I’ll be honest, for the longest time I didn’t think I would be able to write about this topic. It was raw, and too close. To really dive in I would have to feel deeply, and remember the past, and face the question of what the future holds for my kids. As a mother that’s one of the hardest things imaginable. It’s excruciating, actually. So, it was easier to push it down and away, and tell myself that it was just too hard, that I wasn’t ready to face writing about Alzheimer’s. And I was okay with that, because to actually dive deep and unpack it all was terrifying. Then, last summer, I was enrolled in a workshop which included prompts, and one of the prompts started with “I remember,” and my mind instantly flipped it to “You won’t remember,” and it was like a floodgate opened. The essay just came pouring out, and took me by surprise, because apparently my subconscious had been working on it all along. The initial rough draft was written in just three days. I bawled at the end, when I realized that I had done it, I had written about what most scares me, and I had actually found it therapeutic, bringing my story out into the light, saying this is how it feels. It’s my greatest hope that others who are going through something similar read this and know they aren’t alone. 

WOW: Thank you for sharing that heartfelt experience with us. It's amazing to learn a piece of writing has been simmering underneath the surface without us even knowing it. What advice do you have for other writers looking to explore personal topics in their writing but not knowing where to begin? 

Elinor: I can only advise what worked for me, and the first thing that comes to mind is to listen to your gut. If you’re not ready to write yet, trust that your subconscious may be working through some things, and honor that. Know that the right time will come when you’re ready, and your story may come suddenly and unexpectedly, as mine did, through a prompt session, a dream, or something similar. If you already know that you want to write about something personal and feel ready but aren’t sure where to start, one way to find inspiration and get going is to read craft essays or memoirs to see how other writers have approached personal topics. Many times, while I’m reading another writer’s brilliant work, my mind will suddenly go “sideways,” and veer off, taking me somewhere entirely new and unexpected. That’s when I grab a pen, so the magic doesn’t have a chance to slip away! 

WOW: What do you think are the characteristics of a great piece of creative nonfiction? 

Elinor: There are several things that I feel make a great piece of CNF, like interesting structure and a compelling voice, lyrical language, clever use of metaphor, and a strong narrative arc. But, for me, the greatest hallmark of a fantastic piece of CNF is when everything falls away but the story, when I’m so swept away that I feel as if I have become the author, when, at the very end, there’s a moment where some greater understanding opens and I see the world a bit differently. When that shift sticks with me I know I’ve read something great. 

WOW: What is your writing process like with essays? Do you prefer to work off an outline or are you more of a “pantser?” 

Elinor: I’m a “pantser” for sure! I’ve actually written essays using an outline as well, but it didn’t feel as natural or fun for me. I don’t think there’s just one way to do it, of course, whatever works best for a writer is great. I just feel that my own writing is more creative, inspired, and fluid when I allow myself the space to explore without constraint, at least initially. 

WOW: When you visit a bookstore, what is the first section you go to and why? 

Elinor: I always go to “new releases” first, because it’s exciting to see what’s just come out. I love all kinds of books, but tend to gravitate towards fiction, and historical fiction, specifically. It’s fascinating to think about the past, to read about people living through historically significant and challenging events. I’m very drawn to characters who must endure impossibly hard situations and make morally difficult choices. I’m compelled to think, what would I have done?

Thursday, August 24, 2023

10 Gifts to Give Your Favorite Writer (I Mean You)

This past week I’ve been exchanging messages with several of my writer friends. Some have recently experienced health scares. Others are trying to get projects completed by the end of the year. (In case you haven’t noticed, we are 2/3 of the way through 2023.) Still others are smarting from a caustic rejection.

If you fit any of these categories, it may be time to celebrate your writerly self with a little gift. Or a big gift. Who am I to judge? Here are 10 things I’ve been eying or already own. 

1. Ampersand Earrings. If, like me, you are into typography, a pair of ampersand earrings can really make your day. And, unlike typewriter key earrings, no vintage typewriters were harmed in the creation of these little beauties. 

2. Typewriter Book Ends. If you’ve got books on your shelves, there’s a good chance that you love bookends. Me? I use them to keep books from scooting off the end of my desk. My favorites are shaped like typewriters and came from my nieces. 

3. Writer at Work. Your family will know when you are powering through the day’s word count when you hang this on the door. Just remember to take it down when you are accepting visitors. 

4. I’m with the Banned. I love book shirts, but I especially like the ones that include wordplay and are just a bit sassy. The fact that this one is anti-banning is just all that much better for me. 

5. Bamboo Book Stand. Technically it’s a cookbook stand, but I adore my book stand. I use it when I’m keying in edits and when I’m working from a reference book. And when I must send copies of a reference to my editor? The stand holds it open while I snap photos with my phone. I also use it with cookbooks so it is a solid multipurpose tool.

6. Digital Notebook. My son just recommended this to me. He said that all his classmates who have them love them. It is a WACOM tablet with a stylus. You can write by hand, sketch diagrams, and keep your notes digitally. 

7. Waterproof Notepad. Every writer I know has ideas when they are in the shower. Help! With this waterproof notepad you don’t have to run dripping to your desk. You simply take notes, finish your shower, and then take the handwritten note with you. 

8. Hardcover Journal. Whether you use it to take notes or keep track of things you need to get done, a nice, bulleted journal is a godsend. I keep my weekly to-do list in mine. I also write micro essays and draw in it. 

9. Fountain Pen. Every writer I know has a favorite pen. Although I still adore my Eco Uniball, I’ve been toying with the idea of buying a fountain pen ever since I saw an ad for one with a retractable nib. Reviews for that one were not good, but this one may soon make its way to my desk. 

10. Gaming Keyboard. Why does a writer need a gaming keyboard? Well, you can use it to game (duh), but it is also gloriously fancy with spiffy colored lights. What isn’t to love? I’ve coveted my son’s ever since he unboxed it. 

I’m not a big shopper but occasionally, even I feel the need to get myself a little something. Or a gaming keyboard. 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of 40 books for young readers.  
  • To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer's Journey.  
  • Click here to find her newsletter.
She is also the instructor for 3 WOW classes which begin again on September 4, 2023.  She teaches:

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Free Webinar - How to Write and Publish Your Brilliant Memoir

Do you have a memoir you long to write…but aren’t sure how to go from story idea to published book?
On Wednesday, August 30th join award-winning authors Nicole Breit and Rowan McCandless for a FREE webinar that will help you move past blocks, write your book and share it with the world.
In this 75-minute free webinar and Q&A you’ll learn:
  • The most common mistake writers make when starting a memoir project
  • An approach to completing your manuscript that will save you hours of time and unnecessary stress 
  • How Rowan overcame blocks like fear + resistance when drafting her award-winning memoir
  • Key takeaways to streamline your journey from story idea to finished manuscript
  • Details about the Spark Your Story Intensive, a 12-week program for writers who want 1:1 personalized support as they work on their memoir-in-progress

Meet your webinar hosts... 

Nicole Breit
Nicole Breit is a multi-award winning author whose work has been widely published in Canada and the US. Her poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in Room, Brevity, The Fiddlehead, Pithead Chapel, Swelling with Pride: Queer Conception and Adoption Stories and Getting to the Truth: The Craft and Practice of Creative Nonfiction. Nicole’s award winning lyric essay “An Atmospheric Pressure” was selected as a Notable by the editors of Best American Essays 2017.
Rowan McCandless

Rowan McCandless is an award-winning author of fiction and creative nonfiction who writes from Treaty 1 territory. Her debut memoir, Persephone’s Children: A Life in Fragments, co-won the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book in 2022 and was a finalist for the 2022 Governor General’s Award for Nonfiction. She has been longlisted for the Journey Prize, won the Constance Rooke Creative Non-fiction Prize, and received gold for One of a Kind Storytelling at the National Magazine Awards. Rowan is the CNF editor with The Fiddlehead.

Important registration details... 

Immediately on signing up you’ll be re-directed to a page you can bookmark with a unique link to join the webinar on August 30.
You should also immediately receive an email in your inbox with the subject line:
  • [You're in!] Your webinar link inside... 
If you don't see your confirmation email in your inbox immediately after signing up please check your spam or junk folder.
Any questions? Please contact: 
Sign up for the free live webinar here:
(A replay link of this webinar will be sent to everyone who registers.)

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Maturing as a Writer


I recently read a quote by a writer named Meredith Ireland that said, “As a writer it’s easy to feel like people are passing you by—getting agents, book deals, etc. But no two writers ever have the same path. We’re not horses in a race. We’re possums stuck in trash bins, and you get out in your own time.” 

First it made me laugh, then I nodded my head. I am a possum. Although I trained as a journalist in college, I was never formally trained as a fiction writer. In my thirties I applied for two low-residency MFA programs and was rejected. I loved reading though, and always told myself I would write a novel one day. Well, I have written multiple novels at this point. Have any of them ever been published? No. But well into my forties I feel I have finally matured enough as a writer to be crossing that threshold. 

I spent too many years “pantsing” my creative projects, falling in love with the process of creating characters and arranging their life paths, obstacles and all. (By the way, a pantser if a person who writes without an outline). I created music playlists to go along with these books and worked out unresolved teen angst in more plot lines than I care to admit. I sent out a few queries to agents, got rejected, and put those manuscripts away for another time. Then, as any good “pantser” would do, I decided to try my hand at short stories. I discovered that form of writing came easier to me and earned awards, encouraging me to continue the craft. 

Short stories come easier for a “pantser,” in my opinion. But for my most recent project I’m working on, I put that method aside. I “architected” the story, chapter by chapter, story beat by story beat, and put post-it notes on my wall. I wrote a first draft. I took a step back, put it away for a while, and came back again. I added in more chapters, took out some chapters, renamed characters, and went back to editing. Periodically I would go back to my wall and say to myself, “This chapter is out of place. It needs to be moved here.” 

I’m more than halfway through this latest book (a mystery/suspense novel) and I am proud of the maturation I’ve experienced as a writer. My prose is not beautiful, but I can outline and tell a good story. I can (I believe) write pages that keep people guessing, wanting more. I realize I need to add more sensory details and descriptions of places, but that can be done in the next round of edits. I am a possum who never should have believed my first attempt at writing a book would be a raging success. The chance of that happening is rare, although it has been known to happen. You must be committed to putting in the work. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made, the sweat equity I’ve put in, and the ability to keep going even when it got hard. 

How have you matured as a writer? I’d love to hear your stories! 

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

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Interview with Myna Chang: Q3 2023 CNF Essay Contest Third Place Winner

Myna’s Bio:
Myna Chang is the author of The Potential of Radio and Rain. Her writing has been selected for Flash Fiction America (W. W. Norton) and Best Small Fictions. Awards include the Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction, the New Millennium Award in Flash Fiction, the CutBank Books Chapbook Award, and the CRAFT Creative NonFiction Editor’s Choice Award. She hosts the Electric Sheep speculative fiction reading series, reads and edits for several journals, and judges literary and speculative fiction contests. See more at or @MynaChang. 

If you haven't done so already, check out Myna's award-winning essay "We Were the Wild Hunt" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing third in the Q3 2023 Creative Nonfiction Contest! How did you begin writing your essay and how did it and your writing processes evolve as you wrote? 

Myna: Thank you, Anne, I’m glad you asked this. I’ve discussed the torturous process of creating this essay in other interviews, but here, I’d like to focus on the fantastic class I took through WOW that explored speculative memoir. The class was taught by Naomi Kimbell, and she was wonderful. My essay is about my grandfather’s murder, which happened when I was a teenager. I didn’t want to write about it at all, but the thoughts kept bubbling up. I struggled with it for years. Then I tried some of the techniques I learned in Naomi’s class—specifically, using fantastical settings and language to describe real-world events. I’ve always felt at home with science fiction and fantasy, and shifting my mindset to this approach made it easier for me to get into the story. The resulting piece felt more true to me than any of the previous drafts. I’ve adopted this technique in other nonfiction writing, too. It always seems to help me get started, even if I don’t keep the fantastical language in the finished piece. 

WOW: I’m so glad to hear that WOW’s speculative memoir class with Naomi Kimbell was helpful. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with it and how it helped your writing. What did you learn about yourself or your writing by creating this essay? 

Myna: I kept trying to write about my grandfather’s experience from his point of view, but of course, I can’t do that because I’m not him. I didn’t face the horrific situation he faced. Theoretically, I knew I should be tackling my own lived experience instead, but that felt wrong. He was the one who was murdered, so how dare I try to make this about myself? Working through the process, I finally realized it’s not selfish or disrespectful to approach this event through my own lens. I can tell the story of my own shock and grief, and hopefully my love for him comes through. 

WOW: It sounds like you have put a lot of thought and love into this piece, and we’re so grateful that you shared it with us. I understand that you host a speculative fiction reading series and judge a speculative fiction contest. How do you define this genre and what draws you to it? 

Myna: I like to define speculative fiction as any story that asks the question, “What if?” These stories are often classified as science fiction, fantasy, or horror, but I believe those labels are outdated and too limiting. Within speculative fiction, I am particularly drawn to stories with a sense of wonder. My discussion group, Electric Sheep, explores short speculative stories, and we support authors and the magazines who publish them. We hope to provide a few new avenues for speculative writers to connect with readers, and we hope to have fun in the process. 

WOW: What a great idea for a discussion group, and I love that description of speculative writing as “stories with a sense of wonder.” Which creative nonfiction essays or writers have inspired you most, and in what ways did they inspire you? 

Myna: There are so many ways to approach creative nonfiction. I don’t like the idea that all CNF has to fit into a narrow box. That’s one reason I’m a huge fan of CRAFT magazine. I find the creative nonfiction they publish to be both emotionally and technically on-target, but the most helpful thing is the author’s note that accompanies each piece. I love this window into each writer’s process. 

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

Myna: I did not enjoy writing when I was young. I majored in journalism because it was the major with the least amount of math. My writing skills were merely adequate in my early career. When I got high enough on the corporate food chain to make my own hires, the first people I brought in were writers – so I wouldn’t have to do it myself. If I could tell my younger self anything, I’d say, “Don’t worry. Sooner or later, it will all work out.” 

WOW: That’s excellent advice in so many contexts. Anything else you’d like to add? 

Myna: I’d like to thank all the folks at WOW for continuing to offer these contests. I’ve seen some sketchy organizations out in the wild internet, taking advantage of writers and ripping people off. It’s a treat to know WOW is here, running a well-organized, ethically-managed competition. 

WOW: We’re so glad you trust us with your writing. Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses. Happy writing! 

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, founder and editor-in-chief of Sport Stories Press, which publishes sports books by, for, and about sportswomen and amateur athletes and offers developmental editing and ghostwriting services to partially fund the press. Engage on Twitter or Instagram @GreenMachine459.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Give It a Try, You Just Never Know (& Thoughts On My Writing Philosophy)

Call it desperation or a simple lack of trust in the security of existing freelance work, I sent out a variety of cold pitches to editors for me to be added to their list of freelance writers. I caught the idea on a random post in a writing group of someone who did the same.

And you know what? It worked.

I'm reluctant to share the publication until my first article goes live, but the opportunity surprised me. 

Leading to my latest philosophy in writing:

Give it a try, you just never know.

Should you apply for that writing grant? Should you submit your application to that writing retreat? Should you apply to teach a writing class? Should you submit your short story to that contest?

Refer to my philosophy in writing.

Of course, there are other things to consider in all of those questions. Financially, it's not always possible to apply to every opportunity you see, since many come with a price tag. The timing of a writing retreat may not be feasible with your lifestyle, demands, etc. You may need more experience under your belt before you are the right person to teach a writing class. Your short story may need more work. 

But since writing doesn't include going on stage in front of millions like you see on America's Got Talent, the only thing you have to lose is maybe cost and time. (And privately, of course, your ego, but at least rejection isn't filmed). Sometimes part of the writing journey is giving things a try.

And often, sometimes through that process of trying, you realize when something isn't right for you. You may not have learned that if you haven't given it a try. I figured that out this year with other freelance work I was attempting.

So, go ahead, whatever it is you are contemplating for your writing journey, give it a try. You just never know.

Nicole Pyles is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. Her short stories have appeared in Sky Island Journal, Arlington Literary Journal, The Ocotillo Review, and The Gold Man Review. Follow her blog at World of My Imagination or her substack, Three Things on a Saturday Night.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Interview with Beth Kanter: Q3 2023 Creative Nonfiction Contest First Place Winner

Beth Kanter’s fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in dozens of publications. She won a UCLA James Kirkwood Literary Prize for her novel-in-progress, Paved With Gold, and the short story on which it’s based won first prize in the 2020 Lilith magazine fiction contest. She is the author of several books about Washington, DC, including No AccessDC and Great Food Finds DC. When not writing, Beth leads creative nonfiction workshops and works with other writers as a coach and mentor. You can read more of her work or reach out to her at

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on winning first place in our Q3 2023 Creative Nonfiction essay competition! Your entry, “The First Ten Days After A Shooting At Your Daughter’s School: Or, what to expect when you are expecting the inevitable,” is a compelling look at what it’s really like living through what we see in the news. What inspired you to write this piece?

Beth: Thank you. I am honored that my essay was chosen and that it stands in the company of so many wonderful pieces. I also feel grateful for the chance to have more people interact with this piece, one that is so close to the bone for me.

The inspiration for the story is a terrible one, the shooting at my daughter’s high school last year. In the aftermath of the shooting, the staff and faculty at the school did, and continue to do, a phenomenal job of providing resources and support to the students and their families– even as they were navigating their own trauma. One evening a person who specializes in helping school communities through shootings led a very helpful Zoom session for parents. While incredibly grateful for the session and his help, I kept tripping on the absurdity that we live during a time where this job and expertise is not only needed but is in demand. The “what to expect when you are expecting the inevitable” line/title came to me then – a darkly realistic and angry take on the reality of parenting right now. I then started to compose the piece in my head during the long, sleepless nights that followed the shooting as I would conduct a sort of inventory of what had happened that day and how everything felt absurd against this all-too-real real backdrop.

WOW: The way you structured the piece helped me as a reader to face the distressing subject matter. Did it also help you write about it?

Beth: It did. The structure of the piece mimicked and mirrored the way that I was processing the shooting, which in many ways I am told is how the brain sometimes “protects” us when we are faced with trauma I experienced, and still recall the time, as fragmented. My daughter called while I was out with a friend. My friend shepherded me home but I still don’t remember large swaths of the day. I remember getting the call, standing by an elevator, standing on the street, being at the corner of my street in her car, and then entering my house but not the time in between. That pattern of recollection continued and it was almost as if I would shift into a second-person outlook while dealing with a horrific first-person reality.

WOW: Do you have any other thoughts or advice for writing about difficult things?

Beth: My advice is to be gentle with yourself -- take breaks, hydrate, talk to friends. Do it on your own timetable. I also often remind myself that the page is strong enough to hold whatever we choose to bring to it. It really does help to get it out even if you don’t show it to a soul, although there is a lightness that comes from sharing difficult prose, too.

WOW: What writing projects are you working on right now? What’s next for you?

Beth: I am continuing to work on my novel-in-progress, Paved with Gold. I have been lucky enough to have a few excerpts published and as I finish it I am also working toward putting a few more stand-alone out in the world. When not writing, I lead creative nonfiction writing workshops as well as work with individual writers. This fall I will be starting a new session of my Boot Camp forWriters, which I have taught for more than a decade at The Writer’s Center in DC, although the class now is virtual. (

Be it in a workshop or one-on-one, I am always honored and humbled to be invited on the writing journeys of others and it reminds of the importance, really necessity, of a writing community.

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

Beth: Thank you for the opportunity. I so appreciate it.

I think time is the secret ingredient to most good writing. It’s like salt and baking. You rarely taste it but the recipe rarely turns out good without it. That, and walking. Walking is writing.


Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Interview With Christina Adrian, Runner Up of Winter 2023 Flash Fiction Contest


I'm so excited to interview Christina Adrian, runner up of WOW's Winter 2023 Flash Fiction Contest. Make sure you read her story, The Melody, then come on back for our interview.

But first, here's a bit about Christina Adrian:

Christina was born and raised in the Midwest, but her hatred of most things ranch related would make you think otherwise. In her late teens, she discovered a love of books that quickly translated to a deep need to create that which she loved. So while working as a psychiatric nurse, Christina began to tiptoe out into the world of writing. Now Christina writes most days and is editing a romantic suspense novel.

In addition to delving into the minds of people both real and fictional, Christina considers herself to be a coffee connoisseur who loves dogs, a good glass of bourbon, and running distances long enough that others often question her sanity.

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First of all, congratulations on your story! I love how you brought music to life in this piece. What was the inspiration behind this story?

Christina: My grandmother’s piano. There were many things and events that created a bond between us, but my grandmother’s piano was the first I can remember. It has sat in my living room for several years now, being played occasionally by my talented yet too shy to show it husband. One morning while it was raining, I sat on the couch in my pajamas and stared at it. That beautifully constructed instrument is the embodiment of all my anticipatory grief for the woman whom I have since lost to advanced dementia. Since I enjoy writing romance, my emotions slowly spun into The Melody.

WOW: How beautiful! This was the type of story that had so many things underneath the surface, including a mysterious romantic longing and enriched past memories. When you first started this story, did you know what direction it would go?

Christina: For this one, I did. That’s not always the case with me. Sometimes I like to be just as surprised as everyone else by how my stories turn out. Most of the time, a story for me starts with the flash of a scene. An image in my mind of a single moment in time that lends itself perfectly to flash fiction. At times I’ll take those scenes and weave them into a short story or even develop it into a full novel. But when I imagined The Melody, I knew the scene was too perfect to mess with, so I wrote it just as imagined and let it be.

WOW: Oh I love that! Working as a psychiatric nurse must give you unique insights into the human mind. How does that influence your writing process?

Christina: Working in psychiatric nursing has been a huge asset to me. Every character of mine has a rich history because I need it to be there. I love everything about the human experience, and that flows over into the people I create. Throughout the years, I’ve had the honor of delving into the minds of people from every walk of life. I have seen what inspires them, what scares them, and been privy to what kind of experiences have helped to form the person they’ve become. It helps me create imperfect, deep, believable characters that have wants, desires, and needs all their own.

WOW: That is incredible. What surrounds you when you write?

Christina: There are two must-haves when I write. Everything else is negotiable. A mug of something warm perched on my mug warmer and my toy poodle, Killian, lying by my side. He rarely leaves me when I’m home. So much so that I’ve given him a chair of his own in my office. Like the prince he is, there’s a pillow atop it for him to curl up on and sleep. He’s my writing buddy, but if I’m being honest, he really doesn’t do that much to help and often falls asleep on the job.

WOW: What a charming writing buddy you have! What do you hope readers take away from reading your story?

Christina: From the moment I started writing, I have wanted to achieve two things: to make people feel something deeply and to give them a place to escape when their world becomes too much. That’s why I read fiction and why I write it. It’s what I hope I’ve achieved not only in The Melody but in everything I write.

WOW: Absolutely! I hope people are taken away by your work, too. Thank you for taking time to chat with us today!

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Interview with Julide Kroeker: 2nd Place Winner of the Q3 2023 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest

Julide Kroeker
Julide (Juh-lee-duh) Kroeker is 25 and living in Missouri with her dog Midnight. Julide works in a cold, dark office and spends her days wondering if the sun still exists. Will the sun’s rays ever touch her skin again? And if they do, will they be so foreign to her skin that her flesh will reject the warm light and shrivel up upon contact? Julide is also a big fan of hummus.

----- interview by Angela Mackintosh

WOW: Congratulations on winning 2nd Place in the WOW Q3 2023 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest! Your essay, “An Alpha’s Guide to Apologizing” is so creative, and I love the form. What inspired you to start writing it?

Julide: Thank you so much for the opportunity! I was inspired by almost every job I’ve ever had. One day at a job I had some of the other girls and I were making fun of the “apologies” we’ve received from men and I started noticing the patterns within them. I imagined that they all read the same handbook on how to apologize, and then I thought how awful but funny that handbook could be to write.

WOW: That is so clever! The how-to methods remind me of this Southern California shock jock from back in the day. He gave guys “love advice” and encouraged them to use the “backhanded compliment,” among other things like gaslighting. Your essay brought it all back for me, and you nailed the alpha male way of thinking. How did your essay evolve during revision?

Julide: That was definitely an inspiration as well! I did consider the idea of ranking apologies Ive received from men, but I really fell in love with the “how-to” format. From there I just knew the more embarrassed I felt writing it the more authentic it was.

WOW: Ranking apologies would make another great essay! I'm always curious about writing habits. Many writers love to listen to music while they write and create playlists for their work-in-progress. Do you listen to music while you write or do you have a ritual that you use to put you in the writing mood?

Julide: I definitely need noise to do anything as I am an elder IPad baby. I’ve seen every episode of the British panel show, “Would I lie to you?” and love having that on in the background!

WOW: I'll have to check out that show! Right now I'm on a reading kick, and this summer I've burned through about five novels so far, and I'm always looking for recommendations. What have you enjoyed reading lately?

Julide: I’ve been on a massive Greek mythology kick lately. Right now I’m reading Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes. She reexamines how women are portrayed in Greek myths and I’m in love with it and her writing. She’s the kinda of writer her makes you feel smarter when you read her work.

WOW: Thank you for the recommendation! I just reserved it on my Libby app, and can't wait to dig in. I believe this is your second win here at WOW, and we all love your narrative voice! Before you go, please share your favorite writing tip or piece of advice.

Julide: Thank you and everyone at WOW for the opportunity and the community! My favorite writing tip is boring but it’s just write. That’s the best way to improve your craft I think, even on days you don’t want to!

WOW: It really is the best advice! Thank you so much, Julide, for chatting with us today, and I wish you the best of luck in all your writing projects.

Find out more about WOW's creative nonfiction contest and flash fiction contest here:

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Beating the Odds in Publishing

I often catch up on my magazine reading in the summer and a few weeks ago, I came across an article about beating the odds in various situations. One of those situations was “A Publisher Publishing Your Book” (AARP, The Magazine, August/September 2022). The odds of that happening? 1 in 1,000. 

Now, I don’t want to alarm you but that’s only .1 %. According to this article, you have a better chance of catching a ball at a major league game (1 in 835)! 

But then I thought, hold on! That was this time last year. What about this year?

Know-It-All Google had this to say (as of February, 2023):

A publishing house of a medium/large size will often receive more than 5,000 unrequested manuscript submissions annually. Within the book publishing industry, it is agreed that the odds of an author getting their work published stands between 1% and 2%. 

It seems like the whole industry got together and agreed on that number. But 1 in 100? I suspect it’s more likely around 1 in 500, or .2%. Whew, that’s better, right? 

I’m kidding but I’m well aware it’s not a laughing matter to plenty of writers chasing the publishing dream. Only, I think it’s important to understand what writers are up against: the odds of getting published have been dropping drastically in the last ten, fifteen years. There are numerous factors to account for the challenge but how about we focus on the serious business of how to increase your odds of getting published?

 According to the AARP article, one can beat the odds by writing non-fiction, or developing a cookbook, or finally, self-publishing. 

Hmmm. No doubt about it, non-fiction sells well, whether it’s in children’s publishing or self-help markets, or cookbooks, especially if a writer has an established platform in their field. Come to think of it, that’s where I finally beat the odds (Educational market, children’s publishing). 

But my heart is with fiction. So how’s one to beat those odds? 

For me, and for many writers, it’s self-publishing, and it’s exploding as most of us know. Will your genre be a good fit? Series mystery does well, as does fantasy, especially in YA. The thriller/suspense genres sell successfully; all of these genres are perfect for ebooks. There’s romance, too, though romance is one of those genres that seems to sell wherever it lands. 

Can an outlier like contemporary women’s fiction thrive with self-publishing? I think so, if a writer is willing to put in the work to beat the odds. As with any writer on their own, here’s the short list: 

1. Write the book and then invest in yourself. 
2. Start with professional editing. 
3. Present a polished product. 
4. Develop a marketing plan. 

You can, of course, go the traditional route. Improve your odds with professional editing and plenty of opportunities to meet agents. But also do your homework! Research the smaller publishers who accept unagented manuscripts or try reputable royalty/hybrid publishers. The odds might be stacked against you but I still see writers getting contracts all the time. 

Or you can be a publishing entrepreneur. According to the AARP article, the odds that a “New Business Will Survive Five Years”: 503 in 1,000. I’ll take those odds every day!

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Interview with Sophi Strahan: Winter 2023 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up


Sophi’s Bio: Sophi is a rising freshman who lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She’s proud to call this her first publication and hopes to have many more! She loves writing and any other way to express herself through words. You can usually find her reading, playing with her dog, or watching rom coms. 

If you haven't read Sophi's story, "Red," take a moment to do so.  Then come back here to learn more about this young woman and her writing.

--Interview by Sue Bradford Edwards--

WOW: What was your inspiration for this powerful story? 

Sophi: I began having some ideas for “red” a while ago, when I started noticing that the way I felt about myself in public was constantly changing. I’d be at home, pick out an outfit and do my hair and makeup, and feel amazing and confident. And yet once I got wherever I was going, all I could do was pick myself apart, looking at all the people around me and only seeing what I wasn't, instead of what I was. I started realizing that nothing about me was changing — I was still wearing the same outfit or hairstyle or makeup or whatever that had made me feel so confident before, but I felt completely different. I really wanted to dig deeper into that feeling, which is why I started writing this story. Originally, I had the story in the first person, but after reading a novel with pieces in the second person, I decided to take a crazy leap and try changing mine to the second person, and I knew immediately that that's what it needed. My goal with “red” was to create something that people could really connect with and relate to, and to paint a picture of a feeling I think almost all of us struggle with so much. 

WOW: That is so true.  You've hit on an emotion your audience is going to know. Flash fiction is such a concise form. How did you decide which details deserved space in your story and which did not? 

Sophi: This piece is so focused on our protagonist's mental experience. Although her surroundings do play a part in the story, they aren't what's driving the plot. So for this story I tried to cut circumstantial details to a minimum. I didn't want to focus too much on the main character's life, it was more important to have the reader feel connected to her. When I think of this story, I think of it first as an emotional journey, not the story of a particular person. So I really tried to preserve details that convey emotion, and left out some more personal and circumstantial details. 

WOW: Writers are also avid readers. Tell us about what you read in your spare time. Who are your favorite authors? Whose words inspire you? 

Sophi: I love reading pretty much anything, but my favorite genres are fantasy, science fiction and contemporary. One of my favorite authors is Marissa Meyers. The way she paints pictures and draws out feelings in her narratives is stunning, and her plotlines are always captivating! I’m also a sucker for a good romance (who isn't?), and her characters' relationships are priceless! On a different note, I've also really enjoyed Joanna Ho's picture books. Her metaphors, and the way she can evoke such strong feelings in so few words has been so inspiring for my short fiction writing! I think something that both flash fiction and picture books share is the way they can be so simple yet so powerful. 

WOW: Since we both love Marissa Meyers, I've requested Joanna Ho's books from my library. Your bio says that you love to write. What types of writing do you enjoy most? What is it that you enjoy about this writing? 

Sophi: Short stories are my favorite style of writing right now! The challenge of telling a full story in just a few thousand words or so is something that I'm really drawn to. Even though I read a lot in science fiction and fantasy genres, I usually prefer contemporary when doing my own writing. I love exploring relationships—not always romantic ones, although those can be fun too. But there are some really powerful stories to be told in every kind of connection people make, and I’m really drawn to those. 

WOW: What words of advice do you have for your fellow writers who are not feeling “Red” enough to send their words out into the world? 

Sophi: I know it feels like you have everything to lose by putting your work out there—I think all writers, all artists even, have been there. But really there is so much to gain! Think of it as an opportunity to grow. You can get support and feedback from other writers, and yes that can be hard at first, but once you learn how to accept constructive criticism (and to tell which parts of it will positively impact your work), it will grow you so incredibly much as a writer! Be willing to put yourself out there—it will pay off.

WOW:  And we are so glad that you were willing to put yourself and your writing out into the world.  Good luck with your writing projects and we hope to see more of your work in the future!