Friday Speak Out!: And We’re Off! On A Writing Sprint, That Is!

Friday, September 29, 2023
By Allison Chaney

In the labyrinthine landscape of the blank page, where the cursor blinks with expectant impatience, writer’s block often emerges as the Minotaur, nostrils flared and ready to attack if we dare attempt to pass into the land of wordsmithing. Fear not, dear scribes: the Theseus to this literary conundrum is at hand, woven into the elegant simplicity of… timed writing sprints.

Ah, the writing sprint—a concentrated burst of unbridled literary output that occupies a timed enclave. Some of us like a good 25-minute sprint, others prefer 10 or 30 or even a full hour. "Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.” Wise words from William Faulkner. Words on a page, ladies! That’s all we need.

The Art of the Solo Sprint

Many of you may participate in sprints with a group of friends, or during many pen-warriors’ favorite time of the year, NaNoWriMo. But have you tried to write-sprint alone? For the solitary artisan (that’s any writer most of the time, right?), all that’s required is the gentle cluck of an egg timer or the digital glow of your smartphone’s countdown. If you haven’t tried this, I suggest you give it a shot. I like to start with a five-minute sprint, take a five-minute break, then go into a 25-to-35-minute sprint, pause, then start again. It does wonders!

A few writer friends of mine like to add an aural footnote to the experience. They record voice memos during their sprints! It can be a real game-changer. I, myself, prefer a soundtrack to accompany me down the finish line. Whatever works, I always say!

The Communal Hustle: Sprinting in Tandem

The writing sprint can also be a group effort—a high-energy experience shared in the casual hangouts of Facebook groups or the lively chat rooms of Slack channels. “I’d need that accountability sometimes,” says a screenwriter we’ll call Julie. “Sometimes I need to get out of my head, too. It can really be a team effort if you let it.” I couldn’t agree more! So, grab your friends and hit those keyboards together! Whether it's online, at your favorite café, or at a cozy gathering at home, you won't just be knocking out page—you'll be creating your own writer's community.

The Roadmap of Intent

In this spirited endeavor, strategy is key. Set your sights on the milestones you want to hit, whether it’s getting to the end of a chapter or repairing a broken character arc. As any seasoned traveler will attest, a map significantly diminishes the likelihood of aimless wandering.

Why wait for another fickle visit from the muse? Grab your timer, claim your space, and dive into the effervescent waters of productivity. There is no soirée like a writing sprint soirée, and the festivities commence now.
* * *

Allison Chaney is a screenwriter, novelist, and comic book writer known for her rich, relationship-driven stories featuring dynamic female leads. Her portfolio includes the comic book series
Love University and the cherished coming-of-age novel Forget Me Not. A Glyph Comic Book Award winner, Allison has also gained recognition through mentorships and industry initiatives. With a new feature film and an exciting biopic short film in the works, Allison continues to explore the ever-evolving world of storytelling. She also enjoys connecting with fellow writers and is open to mentoring authors interested in venturing into screenwriting. You can find her at or on Instagram @allisonchaneywhitmore.

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

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Lately, I've been reading through flash fiction entries for the WOW! Women on Writing contest. And it always gives me insights into my own writing as I read. 

One area I stumbled across was after reading a couple of stories. There were some minor flaws but the overall feeling I had about it was, "It needs something more."

Have you ever felt that about a story you were reading? Whether it's your own or someone else's? Maybe it reminds you too much of another one you read. Maybe the plot didn't grab your attention. Maybe the ending was weak.

Sometimes, though, it's intangible. There's nothing that makes you want to go back to it and read it again.

I've written my share of stories where I knew there was something missing in my work. How do you go back to something where you really don't know what's the problem?

In those cases, I discover there's a few issues in my stories:

  • Weak Character Development: In a short story I had completely revised last year (that eventually got published!), I realized my character didn't have a strong motivation. And when you think of it, we all have one. Even if it doesn't directly impact our day-to-day, it's there. It's a motivator even if it's unrelated to the immediate problem. If you aren't sure of what gets your character up in the morning or what keeps them striving forward, that's something to think about during your revision process.
  • Weak Plot: If there's no real tension or sense of overcoming or basically some kind of rising and falling action and climax in a story, that's a definite problem. Think back to what's motivating your character. That's often a starting point to figuring out what's at the core of the story.
  • The Ending is...Eh: I feel like the ending of the story is the hardest to write and revise. Usually in the revision process, I've become exhausted with rewriting all the stuff beforehand that I rush through revising the ending. But, it's worth looking at. Aside from asking people to critique your work, consider giving yourself some distance. Go back to it after some time has passed. If you read your ending and think to yourself, "Gee, that's it?" Consider going back.

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.
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Interview with Casey Liston, First Place Winner in the Spring 2023 WOW! Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Casey Liston is a writer of personal essays and flash fiction. She is inspired by the weird, the campy, and the queer. She is a writer in both her personal and professional lives. Casey recently received an honorable mention in WOW! Women on Writing’s creative nonfiction contest. She is currently embarking on writing her first novel. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts with her wife and two adorable cats. Connect with Casey on Instagram at @_caseywrites.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on winning first place in our Spring 2023 Flash Fiction competition. I was told that this is your first published piece and first fiction, which is amazing! What prompted you to enter the contest?

Casey: Honestly, I entered the contest primarily to get a critique of my piece! You're correct that "Omakase" is the first piece of fiction I had written since childhood. I've received helpful critiques through WOW's creative nonfiction contest, so I knew submitting to the flash fiction contest could be a great way to get another set of eyes on my story, in addition to the notes I already had from friends and my writing group. I didn't have any aspirations of advancing in the contest but thought it would be a good experience to start submitting my fiction writing from the get-go. It was such a pleasant surprise to see "Omakase" move forward!

WOW: Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “Omakase?” I had to look up that phrase, which apparently means “I leave it up to you,” and is most commonly used when dining at Japanese restaurants where the customer leaves it up to the chef to select and serve seasonal specialties. Your story really takes that concept to quite an interesting and disturbing place.

Casey: This story came from a generative exercise in a speculative fiction workshop: take a real memory, then make one element of it fantastical, magical, or supernatural in some way. I was inspired by my own experiences with endometriosis (which affects 1 in 10 people with uteruses globally) and the occasional desire to just remove the painful parts of my body altogether. I chose the body-parts-as-sushi element at random because it felt so silly and surreal. But when I began writing, the story no longer had the lightness to it I had originally planned. I found a dark power in the idea of not just carving up a body that had not served my narrator well, but serving it to the very medical professionals who had too often ignored her suffering, only to have her pain and sacrifice glossed over once again. "Omakase" describes the experience too many people who suffer from endometriosis and other chronic pain conditions seek so desperately: to regain autonomy over their bodies, by any means necessary.

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

Casey: I enjoy writing flash fiction because the limited word count provides a creative challenge. There isn't room for many extra details, world building, or exposition. I am a concise writer by nature, so I really enjoy boiling an idea down to its most essential elements and finding a way to deliver the reader an engaging story within those constraints. Flash demands the ability to suspend disbelief and jump right in to a character's world, which I find exciting as both a writer and reader.

WOW: What advice would you give to someone wanting to try writing flash fiction for the first time?

Casey: My biggest piece of advice is to have fun. I love seeing the incredible and innovative things writers can do in under 1,000 words. Viewing the shorter length as an opportunity rather than a limitation is key to my love of the format.

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

Casey: Finding community with other writers is essential to my process and growth as a writer. I'm part of a weekly virtual writing group that has known me since my very first personal essays and is now seeing me through the early stages of writing my first novel. Their feedback, encouragement, and expertise are invaluable and I feel so fortunate to be part of that community. If you don't have other writers in your life to talk about process and share work, I encourage you to seek out a partner or group you with whom you can share in this often-solitary work!

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When Mama Grows with Me by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, September 25, 2023


I'm so excited to have author Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler back with us again for another blog tour. Her last tour with us was for her amazing book Whispering Through Water. And I'm so happy to have her touring her newest book When Mama Grows With Me. It's perfect for families who want to foster a love for nature and exercise and kids who love bugs and dirt!
Celebrate with us as we interview the author and giveaway a copy of the book to one lucky reader.

But first, here's more information about the book:

In When Mama Grows with Me, a mama and her son create their own garden, starting with just a few small seeds and ending with a beautiful display of flowers. They observe how pollinators help the earth stay healthy, learn how to care for plants, and meet other critters that live in their garden, all while playfully shaping their bodies into yoga poses inspired by nature. Not only do Mama and her son learn valuable lessons about their garden, but along the way, they also learn to practice patience. 

By pairing lessons with movement, Rebecca Wheeler helps young readers make connections between the natural world and their own emotional experiences. Learn the value of patience and practice some fun yoga poses in this beautifully illustrated children’s book.
Includes a step-by-step guide to each yoga pose!

Publisher: Belle Isle Books
ISBN-10: 195875465X
ISBN-13: 978-1958754658
Print length: 32 pages

Purchase a copy on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Thrift Books, or Make sure you add it to your GoodReads reading list.

About the Author, Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler

Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler was raised in West Point, a small town in the Tidewater region of Virginia. From the moment she submitted her first short story to a young author’s contest in second grade, Rebecca knew she wanted to be a writer. Her love of writing led her to earn a BA in English and an MEd in English education. She spent several years as a high school teacher, during which she also developed a passion for mental health advocacy. Rebecca completed an MA in professional counseling and now works in school-based mental health and as a college adjunct psychology instructor.
Rebecca also teaches yoga for the young and the young at heart, and she likes to infuse yoga and breathwork in her counseling practice wherever she can. She believes the most valuable use of her time is teaching youth how to love and care for each other and the world around them. Her stories share this focus on positive relationships and a love of nature. Rebecca now lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband, two children, and two spoiled Siamese cats.

When Mama Grows with Me is Rebecca’s third book. Her first picture book in the yoga series, When Daddy Shows Me the Sky released November 2021, and her first YA novel, Whispering Through Water, released January 2023. 
You can follow her on Instagram @rebeccawwheeler_author, her website:

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First off, congratulations on your book! I'm so glad to have you with us again. This is such a charming read. I love how it blends a love of nature with yoga with spending time together. What inspired this book?

Rebecca: Thank you! As far back as I can remember, I helped my mom and grandma in the garden. Now my son also loves to help me! Gardening is cyclic and involves patience (much like a yoga practice). 

I've taught children’s yoga for many years (preschool yoga in particular), and I incorporate books into my classes, especially those that integrate themes of science and nature. I find that many children’s yoga books lack fluidity and use lofty, abstract language that is inaccessible to young readers. Many books offer one pose per page but do not transition well to the following page. I wanted a children’s book to feel like the practice: connected, fluid, and complete, so I wrote the books I was looking for. 

WOW: That's amazing how that love of gardening has moved down generations. What a beautiful family tradition. The artwork is absolutely charming. Tell me about the illustrator. Did you happen to work with her on developing the artwork?

Rebecca's frogs
 Thank you! The illustrator is Katherine Jordan, and When Mama Grows with Me is the second book we've worked on together. The first book When Daddy Shows Me the Sky was released in November 2021, also from Belle Isle Books, an imprint of Brandylane Publishers. As we were prepping for the first book, my editor asked a couple of illustrators to draw a page from the book. I picked the illustrator from the samples that were returned. 

While I have never spoken to Katherine personally, we communicated through my editor, Ceci. I created a spreadsheet of yoga poses and descriptions so Katherine would have a framework for the pose illustrations. Fun fact: The frogs in the book are illustrations of the actual frogs that live in my water pitcher! 

When Mama Grows with Me by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler

WOW: I love how you both worked together! What do you hope children and their parents/guardians discover when reading your book?

Rebecca: I love this question! Unfortunately, social media gives parents some impossible standards as comparison points. Quality time with children doesn't need to involve elaborate outings or activities. Something as simple as hanging out in the yard and observing nature has a big impact. I hope my book inspires parents to share everyday activities they love with their children.

WOW: Absolutely! I have so many wonderful memories of just being with my mom growing up that mean so much. What joy do you hope children discover through gardening?

Rebecca: I hope children discover awe in their own backyards. I chose zinnias, because of their amazing blooms. I love my 4-year-old son's commentary as he looks at a bloom. He describes all the colors and tries to count the petals. He's learned not to be afraid when a bee, moth, or butterfly, but instead shrieks with delight when the insect visits our yard. 

WOW: If only I had that same reaction of glee about bugs! I love a child's perspective. What changed about this book during the revision stages?

Rebecca: The structure stayed the same during the revision process and the "science" of the garden elements. Upon my editor's suggestions, I played up the waiting aspect of the story. I do want the reader to discover joy in waiting, and that it's in those times of waiting that growth occurs (both in humans and plants!). From the first draft to the final, there are more references to waiting and patience. 

WOW: So true about growth in waiting! What advice do you have for authors who would like to write books for children?

Rebecca: Read a lot of picture books. Notice what is special about the picture books that attract you. Personally, I enjoy picture books with a lyrical quality, strong verbs, and clever descriptions, that are also fun to read aloud. 

Remember there's beauty in simplicity. You have 32 pages and less than 1000 words. Choose a theme that's manageable to satisfy in that brief space. 

WOW: Great advice! What are you working on that you can tell us about?

Rebecca: I always intended to write a series of three kids' yoga books. I do have a draft of a third book, which involves a grandma and backyard animals. 

WOW: I love that! I can't wait to see what you come out with next. Thank you for joining us again!

When Mama Grows with Me by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler Blog Tour

---- Blog Tour Calendar

September 25th @ The Muffin
Join us as we celebrate the launch of When Mama Grows With Me by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler. Read an interview with the author and win a copy of the book.

September 25th @ Rockin' Book Reviews
Join Lu Ann for her review of When Mama Grows With Me.

September 27th @ What Is That Book About?
Visit Michelle's blog to find out more about When Mama Grows With Me.

September 27th @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Join Lisa as she interviews Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler about her writing journey and her book When Mama Grows With Me.

September 28th @ Knotty Needle
Visit Judy's blog for her insights into When Mama Grows With Me.

September 29th @ The Mommies Review
Visit Glenda's blog for a guest post by author Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler about why her book is dedicated to Grandma Helen.

October 1st @ The Mommies Review
Join Glenda for her review of When Mama Grows With Me.

October 2nd @ One Writer's Journey
Visit Sue's blog for a guest post by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler about using picture books to teach SEL (social emotional learning).

October 4th @ The Faerie Review
Join Lily as she reviews When Mama Grows With Me by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler.

October 7th @ School Librarian in Action
Visit Zarah's blog for her review of When Mama Grows With Me.

October 9th @ One Writer's Journey
Join Sue for her review of When Mama Grows With Me.

October 11th @ My Beauty, My Books
Nichole reviews When Mama Grows With Me by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler.

October 15th @ Shoe's Seeds and Stories
Join Linda for her review of When Mama Grows With Me by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler.

October 17th @ A Storybook World
Deirdra shares a spotlight of When Mama Grows With Me.

October 20th @ Chapter Break
Julie shares a guest post by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler about finding inspiration in the everyday.

October 21st @ Of History and Kings
Visit Helen's blog for a guest by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler about making the most of waiting.

October 22nd @ Shoe's Seeds and Stories
Visit Linda's blog again for a guest post by author Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler about what to do with your garden in the fall and winter.

October 25th @ World of My Imagination
Join Nicole as she reviews When Mama Grows With Me.

October 27th @ Fancy That!
Visit Nicole's blog for a guest post by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler about teaching kids a healthy respect for bugs.

October 29th @ Jill Sheets' blog
Visit Jill's blog for her interview with author Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler.

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

Enter to win a copy of When Mama Grows with Me by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler! Fill out the Rafflecopter form by October 8th at 11:59 pm CT for a chance to win. We will randomly choose a winner the next day and announce in the Rafflecopter widget and follow up by email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Interview with Peggy Rosen: Q3 2023 Creative Nonfiction Contest Runner Up

Sunday, September 24, 2023
Peggy’s Bio:
Peggy Rosen writes both fiction and nonfiction. She is a contributor to regional magazines and local newspapers. She is proud to have an essay included in Onward: True Life Stories of Challenges, Choices, and Change, a collection of personal essays published by The Birren Center for Autobiographical Studies. Peggy leads life story workshops, encouraging others to write their stories. She lives in the White Mountain Region of New Hampshire with her husband, spending much of her time outdoors gardening, hiking, biking, climbing, and skiing. You can connect with Peggy at

If you haven't done so already, check out Peggy's award-winning essay "Recipe Box Envy" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing 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? 

Peggy: I sorted through recipes, I blinked and stared at most of them with growing realization and snatches of memory, I sighed a lot, then decided I needed to express my tumbled feelings, and an essay came out. The process of looking back and cataloguing the emotion elicited by words on an index card became fun, a different way of finding inspiration. 

WOW: What a great idea to recover memories from recipe cards! What did you learn about yourself or your writing by creating this essay? 

Peggy: I learned that time slips by so fast. Well, I should say I re-learned this! We know time passes quickly intellectually, but I really felt this truth emotionally when I encountered the recipe box and wrote this essay. I found another way to engage with my mom, while we still have time. 

WOW: It sounds like you have a variety of writing experiences, with fiction and multiple genres of nonfiction. Is there a type of writing that you’re most drawn to? How do different genres help inform or influence your writing? 

Peggy: I like to dabble in all genres. The shorter forms (except poetry, which I’m not very good at) intrigue me. I think writing “short” is difficult, and a good exercise for any writer. Creating an effective and compelling piece that includes all the elements of good storytelling helps me improve my craft. 

WOW: Which creative nonfiction essays or writers have inspired you most, and in what ways did they inspire you? 

Peggy: I get a lot of inspiration, new ideas, and fresh perspective from reading the essays and flash fiction pieces posted on the WOW! Women On Writing website. I enjoy other essayists, but none in particular. My “go to” is WOW! It’s such a rich and varied source for so many different voices and styles. 

WOW: I agree – WOW has such an excellent compilation of diverse voices, and we're so glad you're one of them! If you could tell your younger self anything about writing, what would it be? 

Peggy: Give yourself permission to carve out your special writing time, regardless of what is happening in your life – make clear to those around you that making time to write is a priority, a sacred activity that you deserve and need to have. Find a way to banish your Inner Critic to a corner of the room when you write. And finally, stop comparing yourself to other writers, which becomes a default self-sabotage strategy for procrastination and non-writing. 

WOW: Excellent advice. Thank you for sharing your writing with us and 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.
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Friday, September 22, 2023
By Laura Yeager

Why is it that writers think that stories/articles/novels/blog posts/poems/plays must “come out” of one’s psyche chronologically? This is a conceit of mostly beginning writers. From my experience of over 40 years as a writer, this just isn’t the case. You don’t have to sit down and write something from beginning to end.

Recently, I wrote an article for The Writer, but I wrote it in sections that I ultimately “glued” together and formed a piece that made sense but wasn’t conceived chronologically. This piece is one of the best creative works I’ve ever written. I didn’t know where it was going to end up when I was writing it. I certainly didn’t use an outline.

There’s something called a “first line writer.” This is a writer who gets the first line in their head and from there can write the whole piece practically in one sitting. You might be a first line writer.

One method is not necessarily better than the other. Use what works at the time.

I’ve written both ways – used a first line and an outline and gone from beginning right to the end AND written something in units and then figured out how to order them.

One method might be called “mechanical” (something that grows according to rules) and the other, “organic” (something that grows “wild.”)

This discussion falls under the umbrella of a writer’s writing PROCESS. I have a hunch that many writers aren’t keen on revealing their tricks and secrets of how they create. After all, does it really matter what the process is if the product is brilliant?

I teach writing, have for over 35 years, and I have a student who hasn’t said a word in class for a few weeks. He turned in his first paper which was about an Easter egg hunt, and I have to say that it was hysterical. The guy is funny on the page. I can’t teach this. The kid has either got it or doesn’t.

Am I going to ask him how he wrote the piece?

Heck, no.

I had a story published in The Paris Review years ago, decades ago. But the story bears mentioning now because someone asked me “How did you write this?”

My answer wasn’t very enlightening. I told the guy, “It’s completely true,” which it was, lifted from life. In this piece, I didn’t really use any fancy writing technique. I simply recorded verbatim what had happened to me in the span of a few months.

So, you see, there are many ways to write a creative piece.

But what should they all have in common?

Empathy. Putting yourself in another person’s shoes. Even if it’s just your reader’s shoes.

(Why do I feel like the guy in “The Graduate” who tells Dustin Hoffman that the secret to the economy is “plastics?”)

Whatever your writing process – disjointed, chronological, lifted from life, etc. – write with empathy, and you’ll have a chance of going far.

And isn’t that where we all want to go?

* * *

Laura Yeager has been writing fiction and nonfiction for over 40 years. A graduate of The Writers’ Workshop at The University of Iowa, she teaches writing at Gotham Writers and at Kent State University. Laura Yeager’s work at can be found at

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Sometimes, we need a reminder about why we do this writing thing we do.

My daughter, who is a grown woman and working a lovely though demanding job by day, chooses to “follow her bliss” in her hours off. Which just happens to be musical theater. And right now, she’s performing in Xanadu

For those of you of a certain age, you’ll remember the 80s and Olivia Newton John and all the music from ELO associated with this movie. You might recall that it tanked at the box office. Even the hugely talented Olivia, following on the heels of success with Grease, could not save this clunker. But the music? The music was BIG. 

Perhaps that explains why, forty years later, Xanadu is still around, showing up on theater stages. Because honestly, it’s ridiculous and goofy and campy and silly. It’s bad puns and roller skating and a mish-mash of a story. But it’s also absolutely riotous fun! In this production, every single member in the cast—and it’s a small cast (the Muses and two humans)—are rocking and rolling and enjoying every minute on the stage. They exude joy and it’s contagious! I wanted to jump up and join them on the stage (and I did actually sing but that’s wholeheartedly approved)! 

I was leaving the theater with a friend, talking about all the fun they were having, all the joy in that experience, when she said, “Just like you, with your book.” 

Oh, what a strange magic! I was having fun, I was experiencing all kinds of joy. But I’d forgotten that little tidbit in the midst of the publishing side of the book. 

Ah, publishing. It’s like the day job, a grind every step of the way, turning me into this evil woman. And weirdly, with this project, I’ve had so many odd obstacles come up on the business end…

 *My business credit card worked one day but not the next. The company insisted the card was fine, please try again. But it still didn’t work. So I waited for them to send a replacement card. They sent two. Different cards. Another snafu to fix.

 **I needed a PDF. And though my Acrobat Reader or whatever does PDF worked fine the week before, it suddenly wouldn’t open. After an entire day trying to fix it (as per the steps one should follow), I finally just uninstalled and reinstalled. I’m still not sure it’s up to par but it is working. Today. 

***My Author proof (because with all the glitches I’ve been having I dared not publish without checking the book first) is NINE DAYS LATE. It literally dropped off the face of the earth. I'm still waiting for it to appear.. 

 And yet, even with one thing after another, my friend’s reminder worked like...well, like Xanadu itself. When I have a brilliant idea about a tagline, that’s a moment of joy! When I figure out what my logo should be about, I’m ecstatic! When I'm creating, I'm rocking and rolling and having so much fun!

Sure, there may be days, weeks, and yes, years, when we wonder why we ever decided to follow our bliss down this particular path. But deep down, we know. 

We write because of the joy it brings us. Strange magic indeed!

~Cathy C. Hall (Psst! Take a sneak peek at the new website here! Fingers crossed, it works.)
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Get Your Book Seen & Sold by Claudine Wolk & Julie Murkette: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, September 18, 2023


Get Your Book Seen and Sold by Claudine Wolk and Julie Murkette

I'm excited to share the launch of a blog tour with authors, Claudine Wolk and Julie Murkette. They share their expertise regarding publishing and marketing your book in Get Your Book Seen and Sold. It's a must-read for writers who have either published a book or hope to one day. It's an informative read wherever you are on your writing journey!

Join us as we celebrate the launch of their book! You'll have a chance to read an interview with the authors, learn more about her book, and win a copy of it for yourself.

First, here is more information about the book:

It is easier than ever to publish a book, but many authors find out too late about the actual work—the book marketing—that needs to be done to achieve sizable book sales. Instead of embracing the opportunities to promote their books, authors are intimidated and shut down. Those days are over. This is the book authors MUST HAVE to give their books the best chance to be seen and sold.  

In this essential, easy-to-read, and easy-to-understand guide, the author will work through the graphs, examples, and exercises in the book and learn:

  • The fundamentals of book marketing: Message, Audience, and Hook 
  • How the book marketing fundamentals effortlessly feed into every aspect of book marketing
  • The breadth of book marketing options and how book marketing works, with examples
  • How book distribution IS a crucial part of book marketing 
  • To develop an elevator pitch and a formal pitch to media contacts
  • To develop with a doable book marketing plan
  • To develop media kit items for their book publicity efforts: Press Release, Author Bio, etc.
  • The types of book reviews and how to get them
  • To create a list of media contacts and how to use them
  • To organize their new entrepreneurial business as book marketer/author
  • Ideas to “shake their tree” to develop unique book marketing opportunities 
  • To examine the best social media channels to promote their books
  • Where to put their book promotion dollars
  • Most importantly, authors will learn something priceless...the correct starting point!

Authors, You CAN do right by your book! Go on and reach the book buyers that you had in mind when wrote your treasured manuscript and get your book seen and sold today.

Publisher: Lost Valley Press (September 2023)
ISBN-10: 1935874446
ISBN-13: 978-1935874446
Print length: 122 pages

Purchase your copy on Amazon,, or Barnes and Noble. Make sure you add it to your GoodReads list too.

About the Authors, Claudine Wolk & Julie Murkette

Claudine Wolk and Julie Murkette are experienced in sharing their knowledge of the publishing industry to give books the BEST chance to be sold. Julie is the long-time owner of Satya House Publications, which published and marketed the award-winning I See the Sun series of books, among others. Claudine Wolk is a published author, journalist, podcast host and book marketing consultant. You can find her writing in her weekly newsletter on Substack: Get Your Book Seen and Sold. Her book, It Gets Easier and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers, (Harper Collins) is translated into three languages and was released as an audiobook (Nov. 2022).

Find Claudine online at:

Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: Congratulations on your book! What led you to want to write a book featuring tips for authors on getting their book sold?

Claudine: Thank you, Julie and I are so excited about the book.  The reason we HAD to write this book stemmed from our experience with authors when we were working together as book marketers (and editors). Again and again we would meet authors, many of whose books were already published, looking to promote and market their books. When we asked them about the pre-pub efforts to market their books, we got blank stares. It made us sad and frustrated to know that if these authors had known just a few things about book marketing before their book published—things like pre-pub reviews, setting their book up for pre-sale on several online outlets, catalog placement, notice to libraries, pitching to long and short lead media, to name a few—they would have had so much better luck with their book sales. We decided to remedy that situation with a fun, colorful, easy-to-understand guide for publishing and then for book marketing!

WOW: I think that's amazing you found a way to help authors with such a complicated part of the marketing process, especially when you are doing the marketing on your own as an author. What was the writing process like for you?

Claudine: Get Your Book Seen and Sold ripped right out of us. Once we took the time to decide the best way to organize the book, the writing came easily. In fact at 125 pages, its brevity is its strength. Many authors are scared to get started on book marketing for fear of the unknown. They are intimidated to learn what they think is a whole new language. While there are a few fundamentals to understand about book marketing, much of the most effective book marketing comes from using the same creativity that authors use to write! We simply explain book marketing and how it can work for an author and then provide exercises to get the author moving!

WOW: That is so amazing how it just flowed! Did you run into any challenges co-writing this with another writer?

Claudine: Julie and I have worked so well together on various projects. We co-edited Ruth Yaron's famous book, Super Baby Food, 3rd edition and worked on the accompanying, Super Baby Food Cookbook. We have promoted authors together on the floor of Book Expo America and co-authored countless press releases. For whatever reason, our styles click. Julie has her strengths and I have mine. I think the key to a good writing partnership is to trust where your partner has those strengths and give them freedom to shine in those areas. Julie and I also partner on marketing the book as I bet you could have guessed. That collaboration was easy because we had our own book to guide us!

WOW: What a blessing you found each other! What do you hope people walk away with by reading your book?

Claudine: Our hope that authors have a treasured writing resource on their shelves that they go to again and again to successfully promote their books. The book is our "love letter" to the authors, new or experienced, who are brave enough to get their message out there and reach their intended audiences. We also hope they complete the exercises in the book and keep it as a way to stay on track with their book marketing. The fundamentals of book marketing never change and an author can promote their book long after it is published. 

WOW: What a gift you've given authors! What do you think are the biggest challenges authors run into when marketing their book?

Claudine: First is fear. It is scary to put yourself out there, and when an author thinks of book marketing, they are thinking, Crap, people are actually going to read this! They will read my writing. They will see me.

Second is intimidation. Book marketing a whole new discipline. Most writers think of themselves as creators, not business people.

Third is financial. There are many ways to spend your money on promotion, and many are not reputable or effective.    

WOW: You hit the nail on the head! When is the right time to develop a marketing plan as an author?

Claudine: We believe that authors should start to think about their marketing plan as they write their book. Once the book is written, we suggest giving yourself a full year to create the book itself (editing, interior design, book cover) and to start to unroll your book marketing up until the book launches.

WOW: Lots of planning to anticipate for! What lessons have you learned through your writing journey that you can tell authors?

Claudine: I think the biggest lesson is for writers to trust their gut. It is not easy to put your writing out into the world. Sadly, the critics out there can be brutal, but the number of people that you actually help FAR outweigh the critics. Be brave and know that you are not alone. When you feel alone, google "mean book reviews" and you will know that you are not alone. Never let a few critics of your precious message away from the many who will benefit from your work. 

WOW: Who is this book right for?

Claudine: This book is for any author who wants to write, publish, and market a book and for existing authors who would like a refresher course on the fundamentals of book marketing. Not only is it a guide for an author to make the decision on how to publish, it provides the starting point for any good marketing plan. Once an author understands the publishing process and what is possible with book marketing, they can make good decisions that will help them to get their book seen and sold. 

WOW: That's awesome. For authors nervous about marketing, what advice would you give them?

Claudine: I would say to that author, "You cared so much about the message in your book, the story you want to tell, that you wrote a whole book about it! Your message deserves to be out in the world. Your book deserves the best chance to be seen and sold. Take some time to learn a few book marketing options, apply them faithfully and you will do right by your book!"

WOW: Absolutely! What are you working on next that you can tell us about?

Claudine: Ahhh, right now I am marketing my book by following all the advice in Get Your Book Seen and Sold. My Substack Newsletter / Podcast ( is growing and I am so excited to be reaching more authors who want to learn about book marketing from newsletters and podcast episodes with book marketing authors and industry experts. I also consult on book marketing as a coach and have a new online lesson coming out for purchase titled Begin: Write Your Book The Right Way where I partner with Kate Brenton. Kate and I combine "how to write" with "how to market" the book you have been meaning to write! I am practicing what I preach!

WOW: How cool! Best of luck on your journey, and can't wait to see what you come out with next.

Get Your Book Seen and Sold by Claudine Wolk Blog Tour

Blog Tour Calendar

September 18th @ The Muffin
Join us on The Muffin as we celebrate the launch of Claudine Wolk and Julie Murkette's book Get Your Book Seen and Sold. You can also enter to win a copy for yourself!

September 19th @ Karen Brown Tyson's blog
Join Karen as she reviews Get Your Book Seen and Sold. You can also win a copy for yourself!

September 20th @ My Beauty, My Books
Join Nikki for her review of Get Your Book Seen and Sold

September 21st @ Knotty Needle
Join Judy for her review of Get Your Book Seen and Sold.

September 22nd @ Word Magic
Visit Fiona's blog for a guest post by Claudine about creating a list of media contacts and how to use them.

September 23rd @ Chapter Break
Visit Julie's blog for a guest post by Claudine about how to pick and choose where to focus your book marketing.

September 25th @ My Heart is Booked
Don't miss Danielle's book review of Get Your Book Seen and Sold. You can also win a copy for yourself!

September 28th @ Deborah Zenha-Adams' blog
Deborah shares an excerpt from Get Your Book Seen and Sold. You also have a chance to win a copy of the book, too!

September 29th @ Margay Leah Justice
Join Margay as she reviews Get Your Book Seen and Sold.

October 1st @ Balance and Joy
Join Sheri for her review of Get Your Book Seen and Sold.

October 4th @ Author Anthony Avina's blog
Join Anthony for a guest post by Claudine about the trick to a great interview.

October 6th @ Carole Writes
Join Carole for her review of Get Your Book Seen and Sold.

October 7th @ A Wonderful World of Books
Visit Joy's blog for a guest post by Claudine Wolk about a popular book marketing roadmap.

October 7th @ Of History and Kings
Join Helen for her review of Get Your Book Seen and Sold.

October 10th @ What is That Book About
Visit Michelle's blog for an excerpt from Get Your Book Seen and Sold.

October 13th @ CK Sorens
Visit Carrie's page for her insights into Get Your Book Seen and Sold. You can also win a copy for yourself too.

October 15th @ Madeline Sharples' blog
Join Madeline for a guest post by Claudine about how you can't do everything. Don't miss it! 

October 15th @ The Mommies Review
Visit Glenda's blog for her review of Get Your Book Seen and Sold.

October 17th @ One Writer's Journey
Join Sue for her review of Get Your Book Seen and Sold.

October 17th @ Just Katherine
Visit Katherine's blog for a guest post by Claudine Wolk about how writing and book marketing are related.

October 18th @ A Storybook World
Visit Deirdra's blog for a spotlight of Get Your Book Seen and Sold.

October 19th @ Pick a Good Book
Join Debbie for her review of Get Your Book Seen and Sold.

October 19th @ Book Reviews from an Avid Reader
Visit Joan's blog for her review of Get Your Book Seen and Sold.

October 20th @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog
Join Beverley for her review of Get Your Book Seen and Sold by Claudine Wolk and Julie Murkette.

October 21st @ Free to be Me
Join Leslie for her review of Get Your Book Seen and Sold.

October 21st @ Editor 911
Visit Margo's blog for a review of Get Your Book Seen and Sold.

October 22nd @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog
Visit Beverley's blog again for a guest post by Claudine Wolk about the top ten insider tips for self-publishing and book promotion.

October 22nd @ Jill Sheets' blog
Visit Jill's blog for her interview with author Claudine Wolk about her book Get Your Book Seen and Sold.

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

Enter to win a copy of Get Your Book Seen and Sold by Claudine Wolk and Julie Murkette! Fill out the Rafflecopter form for a chance to win. The giveaway ends October 1 at 11:59 pm CT. We will choose a winner randomly the next day and announce them in the Rafflecopter widget. We will also follow up by email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Interview with Julie Lockhart, Runner-Up in the Q3 2023 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest

Sunday, September 17, 2023
Julie Lockhart loves an adventure in wild places. She spent most of her career in academics, where she published in peer-reviewed journals, such as Critical Issues in Environmental Taxation and Advances in Accounting Education. During the last years of her career, she led a grief support nonprofit, where she discovered the beauty and depth of personal stories, writing about her experiences to help grieving people feel less alone. Her essays have appeared in the Ashland Daily Tidings, Minerva Rising, the Journal of Wild Culture, and bioStories. You can read more at: Julie lives in Port Townsend, WA. 

---- Interview by Angela Mackintosh
WOW: Congratulations on placing as a runner up in the Q3 2023 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest! I love the creative form of your essay from the very opening to the last line. What was your inspiration to begin writing "Recipe for Forgiveness"?

Julie: Thank you for your kind words, Angela. I have been fascinated with form/structure in approaching my stories. And I get inspired in the courses I have taken through WOW and other venues. All three of my essays that have made it to the top ten list have come from the challenging and creative assignment options that Chelsey Clammer offers. When I write about my life, I try to focus on how I’ve grown through the difficulties. Stories roll around in my head, and I need an infusion of inspiration to make them feel worth writing about. I search for ways to write where it doesn’t sound like I’m just carping about someone, such as my mother. I’ve worked really hard to move past the wounding from my childhood and early adulthood, and I’d like to inspire others to see that healing is possible. This line, “Keep baking until your thoughts of her become soft and fluffy frosting,” is really a statement that there’s always another level of healing and forgiveness to strive for. And that’s OK!

WOW: Oh yes, I simply adore that line! It’s very encouraging to readers, and such an important point you made about working past old wounds. I think innovative forms like yours certainly help that materialize. I also love Chelsey’s workshops! What was the most challenging aspect of writing this essay?

Julie: When I challenge myself to create a unique story structure, I often don’t yet know where the story is going. I find myself churning ideas around in the middle of the night, especially if there’s a deadline for a course or submission date. The challenges in writing “Recipe for Forgiveness” were to figure out how to put it together, what to include and not include, and to get enough sleep!

WOW: Ha! I'm a fan of sleep, but your hard work shows. The recipe at the end blew me away, both for the fantastic tips about baking vegan (flax egg!) and for the way you found compassion for yourself and your mother. Baking vegan is a lot about making little changes and substitutions. I remember making buttermilk by mixing almond milk and apple cider vinegar in a bowl to curdle. It's a smart metaphor for how you were conditioned to do things growing up vs. how you carved your own path. You always use such creative structures that I imagine you have some literary influences. Who are some authors who've inspired your writing?

Julie: Because I spent most of my career in academics (even though my field of accounting might sound boring), I love studying the more “academic” side of creative nonfiction. For example, reading Brenda Miller’s A Braided Heart: Shaping the Lyric Essay gets my creative juices going. I also loved her essay on “How to Meditate.” I’m inspired by “The Pain Scale,” by Eula Biss, partly because I’ve experienced chronic pain, and also the structure really works. And I found that Gary Kadlec’s essay on cancer, “I am Al’s Lymphoma,” got me to see that you can write nonfiction from a different perspective; in this case he has personified the cancer that tells the story.

WOW: We have a similar taste in essayists. I’ve read those essays except for Gary Kadlec’s, and now I will have to check that out. I also love Eula Biss’s essay and one of my favorites from her is “Time and Distance Overcome.”

Switching gears here, I know you are a nature lover, and I saw your website about your favorite hikes! What are some recent adventures, and can you share anything you've learned from them?

Julie: There’s always something to learn from adventures in wild places, whether it’s looking for “signs,” such as seeing an eagle when I need guidance on a personal challenge, or figuring out my limits as I age. Just last week, while hiking a stunning trail to the top of a local mountain, I experienced profound gratitude that I can accomplish such a hike at the age of 65. A good example of my nature writing was recently published. It’s an exciting kayaking adventure with reflections and learnings:

WOW: Oh that’s a beautiful essay, Julie! I love how you explore memory through the vivid backdrop of kayaking. It has wonderful rhythm and pace, and almost mimics the motion of kayaking. Some writers I know listen to music while they write, others light a candle to get in the mood. Do you have any writing rituals that help get you in the zone?

Julie: I have a writing group that for years has met almost every week on Zoom. We do 20-minute hand-written, timed writings, which is how I often start the work on an essay idea. Sometimes if I’m stuck in the middle of a piece, I’ll set a timer and write by hand, because I’ve learned it’s a great way to move the work forward.

WOW: So true! Timers are a great way to break through any block. What are you working on right now? 

Julie: I’ve accumulated a large “pile” of digital rejection letters from submissions. I’m sorting through these essays to see if there’s a different way to write the story. For example, I had written an essay about my ex-husband’s death when our daughter was six. I decided to rewrite it from his perspective, as though he’s hanging around us “on the other side” and watching what’s going on. I may try braiding in parts of the original essay to see how it shapes up. I may also braid in some research about the grief experience. I like the challenge of creating something new from a stale-feeling piece of writing.

Thank you for this opportunity to talk about my writing!

WOW: That's a creative, ambitious project, and I wish you the best of luck with it, Julie! Thank you so much for chatting with me today. I’m a fan of your work and hope to read more of your writing soon.

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

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Ask the Book Doctor: Making Money Writing

Saturday, September 16, 2023

By Bobbie Christmas

Q: How do we support ourselves while we’re writing our books?

A: If you’re writing nonfiction, you can write a proposal and several sample chapters instead of the whole book. If the information is current, compelling, and well written, and if the proposal follows the guidelines about how to write a book proposal, you may succeed in selling the book and get an advance against future royalties. Still, the advance may not be enough to live on while you write the full book. My advance from Union Square Publishing for the first edition of Write In Style paid only about a month’s expenses, so I continued to edit books and write articles to maintain my income while I wrote my book in my free time. 

If you write fiction, you can try your hand at freelancing for magazines and websites while you also write your novel.

Writing and selling articles is a great way to make some money while you’re also writing your book, but you need to know how to write an article and how to find work, and writing articles can be a full-time job in itself.

Long ago at a local meeting of The Writers Network I asked attendees how they supported themselves while they wrote their books. The consensus was that most kept their day jobs and wrote their books at night and on weekends.

In reality most of us writers don’t make enough money off our books even after they are published anyway, so we’d better have another solid source of income, no matter what.

Q: Tell me about breaking into magazine writing.

A: Oh dear, entire books have been written on the subject. I can’t possibly give the answer the full attention it deserves. Instead I recommend reading a few books on the subject. Although I haven’t read the book, I looked at a few, and I liked Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Magazine Articles by Sheree Bykofsky best of all, because it covers a great deal of territory, including how to handle your taxes when you get paid. I’m a little prejudiced because Sheree has been a help to me from time to time. She’s a literary agent in New York.

In brief, editors need to see that you can write a good article and are familiar with the jargon and craft of journalism. For example, the lead paragraph of an article can be referred to as a lede or a lead. When editors read your clips (examples of articles you’re written), they want to see you know how to write a strong lede, follow the tenets of creative writing, and use good grammar.

At the time I began freelancing full-time—when dinosaurs roamed the earth—I used the Yellow Pages to find local magazine publishers. I made appointments to show off my portfolio and get to know the editors. In this way I was able to get articles assigned to me regularly. Today you’re not limited to local publications. The internet is filled with information on periodical publishers and how to query them.

Q: How can I go from free to fee writing?

A: Good for you for writing for free! You’re building your portfolio.

Many accomplished writers began by writing free articles. Some do it to get experience and build a portfolio. Others began writing as volunteers for nonprofit organizations. I began by writing and editing for my school newspapers and then for charitable and educational organizations. After I gathered enough bylined articles to build a solid portfolio, I used it to land a full-time job as a reporter and editor with a newspaper. Over the years as my skills and portfolio grew stronger, I moved into corporate communications, without ever revealing that my original portfolio had all been written for free.

I’ve progressed into editing books and magazines, so I no longer seek freelance writing assignments. When I did, though, I had much more success when I met with publishers, showed them my copious and varied portfolio, and asked for assignments. Nowadays I recommend that freelancers have a website that displays some of their published articles. Websites have become essential for anyone in business, and trust me, freelance writing is a business.

As a business owner you must constantly market yourself. No client lasts forever. Editors change, companies fold, work dries up, and if you aren’t always looking for more and new clients, you will find yourself out of work.

Even though printed periodicals have slowly dwindled, other opportunities have arisen. Companies need copy for their websites. Businesses and organizations need newsletters and blog entries. Query all the websites, periodicals, and other paying markets that appeal to you. Never stop looking. If you hone your writing skills and approach publishers in a professional manner, you will soon go from free to fee.

Never make the mistake of undercharging, though. Rather than settle for low rates, you may need to use a few negotiating skills. Going from free to fee is one thing, but getting paid a fee that’s worthy of your time is more important than merely getting paid.

Even when you are accustomed to getting paid for your work, you may find times when you want to charge less or nothing, such as when writing for a nonprofit that speaks to your heart. Don’t hesitate to follow your passion and use your skills to help people and organizations that make the world a better place.


Send your questions to Bobbie Christmas, book editor, author of Write In Style: Use Your Computer to Improve Your Writing, and owner of Zebra Communications. or Read Bobbie’s Zebra Communications blog at
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The Bigger the Stakes, The Bigger the Fall

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

I was catching up on my blog reading the other day when I read an insightful post by Nathan Bransford on story stakes – The More the Character Puts in a Bucket, the More There Is to Spill. Admittedly, my first thought when I read the title was “no kidding.” But I’m accustomed to finding treasures among Bransford’s posts so I read on. 

And, yes, I discovered another insight. Too often, our characters are skipping along, having an amazing day when disaster strikes. We expect readers to empathize with our characters because disaster is bad. But if we want to keep our readers engaged, we need to do better. There’s no taking the easy way. 

Bransford’s point was that if your character has already put a ton of effort into something, and then it goes wrong? That’s huge. We’ve all been there and so have our readers. 

Let’s say, for the sake of an example, that your character is a seamstress who has been making a princess-worthy wedding dress for her daughter. Her fingers hurt. She has eye strain. And she’s short on sleep, but three days before the wedding she is ready for the final fitting. That’s when her daughter tells her that she’s calling off the wedding. 

It sounds like the set up for a Gen X rom com, doesn’t it? Mom has serious investment in this dress which has one big day to shine. Now her efforts may never been seen. That’s going to create a lot more tension than if the character was having a lovely cuppa in her garden when she got a phone call that the wedding was off. 

What if your story was a mystery? Your character is a freelancer (how ever did I think of that?) and also a dog walker because she has bills to pay. Recently someone started a dog walking club. Get out and get fit and have fun with your pooch! This is really eating into your character’s ability to keep the lights on. She’s trying to figure out how to get her customers back when she finds the woman who organized the dog walking club dead in the park where everyone, including her and her few remaining dogs, walks. In addition to the trauma of finding the body, now she must find the killer to prove that she didn’t do it. 
Tipping over the character’s plans is a great way to create a disaster that is a natural fit for your story. If you can do that, it won’t feel contrived and it will give your character a lot to lose if things don’t get straightened out. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to make some changes to my WIP. 


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:
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Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, September 11, 2023


Just in time for the holiday season, author Raven Howell joins us again for another fun blog tour. Her book Santa's Slip Up is perfect for a young reader interested in a bit of spookiness, mystery, and humor. Continue reading to find out more about the author and her book. Plus, you'll have a chance to win a copy for yourself.

First, here's a bit more about the book:

It’s the night of Halloween. Spooks, spiders, and skeletons abound, the full moon glows – so who is cheering, “Ho, ho, ho!”? Apparently, Santa Claus has come to town, though it’s the wrong time of year! But what could be a bad situation, is wittingly handled with humor, and there’s a new winner at this year’s Halloween parade.

For fans of Room on the Broom and The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything.

Publisher: Pen It Publishing
ISBN-10: 1639844635
ISBN-12: 978-1639844630
Print Length: 38 pages

Purchase your copy of Santa's Slip Up on Amazon,, or Barnes and Noble. You can also add it to your GoodReads reading list.

About the Author, Raven Howell

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

You can find her online at:

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: Thank you for joining us again for another blog tour! Congratulations on your book, Santa's Slip Up. What inspired you to write it?

Raven: Thank you! Originally, one of my publishers was requesting I write a Christmas-oriented story. I started considering not only Christmas, but other holidays. One morning, on an early dawn mountain hike, I thought, what if one symbolic figure from a holiday got mixed up in another holiday?! That kind of story could be really fun to write and read! 

WOW: It's such a brilliant idea! Why do you think children will enjoy this book?

Raven: Growing up, and still to this day, I find there’s something about mystery and spookiness that’s enticing! There’s an adrenaline rush—getting creeped out, but not too much. Ultimately, kids love to be scared!

In Santa’s Slip Up, children can navigate the Halloween plot using their problem-solving capabilities. The reader meets bump in the night creatures and knows something is not right. As Halloween creepies are encountered, it appears they can be eliminated as the cause of some yet unknown mischief...but can we be sure? 

When the reader learns that anyone can make a mistake—and that it’s perfectly fine to do so—it’s great for a child to discover that seeming desperate situations can almost always be turned around with humor and light-heartedness. 

WOW: I love the combination of play with an important lesson. You have such a way of choosing words that capture the sight and sound of the pictures. Can you share insights in your writing process to achieve such beautiful imagery in your words?

Raven: I’m glad that the words in the story are captured in the pictures—that’s a credit to Savannah Horton, the book’s illustrator. She had the text I wrote to create from. 

In the book, there are many Halloween characters the reader encounters. I wanted to explore as many curious ones I could come up with, and kept jotting them down in my notepad as they popped into my imagination. 

First, you have to include the black cat, right? It’s such a wonderful Halloween icon, like a witch. I added ghosts, and ghouls, and I know it freaks some people out, but the scary clown just had to make it into the storyline. Ha! 

As the narrative grew, my goal was to also capture that time of year where the leaves are brown and crunchy and tumbling about in a cool breeze. The moon shines brighter among bare treetops and you start hearing strange autumn sounds in the evenings. Skeletons are creaky, their bones clanking. Owls have that haunting hoot they echo, and let’s face it—zombies “ramble and twitch.” That helped determine the imagery.

WOW: I love the insights into your process. You are an incredibly prolific children's author. For those who desire to write picture books but don't know where to begin, what advice do you have?

Raven: Make sure when ideas come to you, write them down immediately. That’s so important to do as a starting point. Are you riding the subway and suddenly think of a great story about a child moving to the big city? Maybe you’re relaxing at the beach on vacation, and you’re inspired by the seagulls, and come up with a funny plot about two gulls fighting over a sandwich. Then write it down somewhere, somehow, even if that’s on your phone’s Note app (what I do a lot!) or with a pen on the back of a napkin you have in your handbag.

When you’ve written down your idea, start flushing it out. You need an exciting or enticing intro, characters need development, environment needs explaining and if it’s non-fiction, get your facts straight and do lots of research. Figure out your angle. Is it going somewhere? If the writing of it becomes too tedious, put it aside and try working on it later, or choose another idea.

As you’re moving forward, figuring things out, don’t hesitate to ask others lots of questions—from librarians to other published authors. And keep writing, even if it’s irrelevant to your picture book. Just writing, in and of itself, instigates more writing and is helpful in so many ways you may not be aware of.

WOW: Excellent tips! How do you know when you've written a picture book that will resonate with children?

Raven: As an author, it’s impossible to predict how your book will be perceived and resonate with readers ahead of its release to the public. I’ve been writing full time as a children’s author in various formats for three decades now. The children I wrote for in 1999 are not the children, the generation of children, I write for today. The world moves forward in social, economic, environmental, technological—in all—ways. It’s a matter of adjusting to what’s relevant today. I think THAT’S what I find resonates with children. For instance, STEM activities associated with stories and books are popular now. That wasn’t a prominent aspect back in the 90s. 

I have two older books that were out of print, and in the past couple of years I updated them—both the text and illustrations, to be befitting to today’s elementary classrooms and to what’s popular in libraries. And it worked! Both books were picked up for publication, published, and are a popular request in my story times now (the books are Spin a Circle and Seasons).

WOW: That's amazing how you learned how to update your books with the times! What are you working on next that you can tell us about?

Raven: I’ll be busy in children’s fairs, schools, and libraries, reading and sharing my books and activities with students this fall and winter. I have several new upcoming releases: Pinkies Up, The Charms of U.S. Farms, and Loved. They are all very different. One is about a whimsical tea party gone wild, another is about a class trip to local farms and the interesting things the students experience and find out about, and Loved shares the unconditional love between parent and child in prose. 

The best part of being a children’s author for me is truly connecting with the children themselves. And giving a reader a smile.

WOW: You always do, too! Thank you for joining us again! I hope you enjoy the tour.

Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell Blog Tour

--- Blog Tour Calendar

September 11th @ The Muffin
Join us at WOW as we celebrate the launch of Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell. Get to know more about the author in our interview with her and enter for a chance to win a copy of the book.

September 11th @ Word Magic
Visit Fiona's blog for a guest post by Raven Howell about black cats. Are they really evil or is it all a myth? Find out! (Fun fact: the author owns one!)

September 12th @ One Writer's Journey
Sue shares a guest post by Raven Howell about the story behind the song "Monster Mash" being too morbid for the radio at first. Don't miss this fascinating post!

September 13th @ Barbara Barth's Art & Words
Join Barbara for her review of Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell. This is a fun children's book you don't want to miss!

September 15th @ One Writer's Journey
Join Sue again for her review of Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell. You'll love hearing about this charming children's book!

September 17th @ A Wonderful World of Books
Visit Joy's blog for her review of Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell. You can also enter to win a copy of the book too.

September 18th @ Rockin' Book Reviews
Join Lu Ann for her review of Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell. You can also win a copy of the book.

September 20th @ AJ Kormon's blog
Visit AJ Kormon's blog for her review of Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell. You'll want to add this book to your reading list.

September 20th @ Choices
Visit Madeline's blog for a guest post by Raven Howell about the tricks of the trade writing rhyme.

September 22nd @ Chapter Break
Come by Julie's blog for her review of Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell. You'll also have a chance to win a copy for yourself.

September 24th @ Seaside Book Reviews
Don't miss Jilleen's book review of Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell.

September 25th @ What is That Book About
Visit Michelle's blog to read an excerpt from Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell.

September 26th @ A Storybook World
Join Deirdra for her spotlight of Santa's Slip Up. Don't miss this charming book!

September 28th @ Knotty Needle
Don't miss Judy's review of Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell. You'll love this charming children's book!

October 1st @ Chatty Patty's Place
Join Patty for her review of Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell. You'll also have the chance to win a copy for yourself, too.

October 3rd @ Writer Advice
Visit Lynn's site for a guest post by Raven Howell about the one thing romance, crime, and religion all have in common (hint: they are the most popular book genre!).

October 5th @ Pick a Good Book
Join Debbie for her review of Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell. A must-read book for the spooky season!

October 8th @ Jill Sheets' blog
Visit Jill's blog for her interview with author Raven Howell, author of Santa's Slip Up.

October 10th @ Pages and Paws
Visit Kristine's blog for a yummy guest post by Raven Howell that features delicious monster cookies. They are a must-have for the upcoming spooky season!

October 12th @ World of My Imagination
Join Nicole for her review of Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell. You can also win a copy of the book!

October 15th @ Jill Sheet's blog
Visit Jill's blog for her review of Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell.

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

Enter to win a copy of Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell! Fill out the Rafflecopter form for a chance to win. The giveaway ends September 25th at 11:59 PM CT. We will randomly choose a winner the next day and announce in the Rafflecopter form and follow up via email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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