Interview with Caroline Michalicki, Spring 2023 WOW! Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Bio: Caroline Michalicki resides in rural Connecticut with her two dogs. When not substitute teaching she dreams up fictional short stories that stem from her childhood.

WOW: Congratulations on placing as a runner up in our Spring 2023 Flash Fiction competition! What prompted you to enter the contest?

Caroline: I love to read and create short and ultra short stories.

WOW: Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “Legless Bill?” You mentioned dreaming up stories that stem from your childhood, so did that come into play here?

Caroline: Legless Bill existed. As a child I knew Bill only from my Dad. He occupied his wheelchair on his porch that abutted the neighborhood Drug Store. My Dad visited him whenever he went to the Drug Store. Details of Bill's situation were never discussed in front of me, so I created my own story about Legless Bill.

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

Caroline: Waiting to publish my novel about a nine year old girl in 1959 experiencing the loss/disappearance of neighbors that live in her apartment building.

WOW:What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?

Caroline: Pan by Knut Hamsun. I am close to a cousin who lives in Norway. My deceased husband recommend the book years ago.
Jewel by Bret Lott. I lived in the South for years and enjoy reading fiction about the South in years gone by.

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

Caroline: I have been told to write what you know.

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My Unfurling by Lisa May Bennett: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, October 30, 2023
My Unfurling by Lisa May Bennett

We're back again with another incredible book going on a blog tour. It's My Unfurling by Lisa May Bennett. This book is perfect for women who are rethinking their relationship with alcohol or at the beginning of their sober journey. Join us as we celebrate the launch of Lisa's blog tour with an interview with the author herself and a giveaway for you to win a copy of the book!

But first, here's more about My Unfurling:

Wicked hangovers. Scary blackouts. Ugly fights with friends. The results of binge drinking weigh heavily on Lisa May Bennett. She tries repeatedly to savor “just a few” glasses of wine—only to find herself passed out on the couch again.

Lisa has a bucket list full of exciting adventures with zero check marks next to them. Her anxiety and self-doubt are crying out for real solutions, not more booze. And her dream of becoming a published writer is fading away. She worries that her love of a good buzz will keep her stuck in this rut. Can she take charge of her life, or is she headed for a disastrous rock bottom?

This touching and funny memoir explores the childhood experiences that paved the way for Lisa’s drinking habit. She examines her complicated relationship with her mother, her experiences as a late bloomer, and her ongoing search for validation. In an engaging and relatable voice, the author shares how she began to “unfurl” without alcohol holding her back. But will she stay sober and discover how to truly thrive?

Anyone wondering if they'll ever burst out and follow their dreams will find My Unfurling compelling and hopeful.

ISBN-13: 9798985875003
Print length: 266 pages

Purchase a copy of My Unfurling on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

About the Author,  Lisa May Bennett

Lisa May Bennett is the author of the memoir My Unfurling: Emerging from the Grip of Anxiety, Self-Doubt, and Drinking. She had a flourishing career in marketing and communications for more than two decades before finally embracing sobriety and chasing her dream of becoming an author. Her upcoming book will demystify the self-publishing process, and she hopes to encourage more people to tell and publish their own stories.

You can follow the author at: 

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: Congratulations on your book, My Unfurling. I found it so insightful and rewarding to read. What inspired you to write this memoir?

Lisa: Thank you so much. Two things converged to make this book happen—my passion for writing and my decision to quit drinking. First, I had wanted to be an author since I was about 12 years old. I majored in creative writing in college and thought for sure I would be published by my mid-twenties. But it didn’t happen, mostly because I didn’t even try to make it happen. When I hit 50, I started wondering if my dream was ever going to become a reality. After some soul searching, I realized that the main obstacle standing in my way was my drinking habit. So, I decided to send alcohol packing and give myself a chance to make that dream come true. I wrote my memoir for the healing benefits of getting my story on the page and to share with others what a difference you can make in your own life when you eliminate your major obstacles.

WOW: That's amazing your solution of giving up drinking also became what your first book was about! What evolved about the book during your writing process?

Lisa: Partly because I’ve always been allergic to starting with an outline but also because I was using the writing process as a form of therapy, I sat down every day and wrote whatever I felt like—no order, no structure. This resulted in a big problem when I was done. I had to put everything into a story that actually flowed, and this was a lengthy process. I needed a theme to help guide me, and the unfurling theme emerged early on. But late into the editing process I was still combining chapters, pulling chapters apart, moving large passages, deleting passages, and adding new content that I could see was missing. It was actually kind of fun, but it took a lot of time. I will definitely be using outlines going forward!

WOW: I know that feeling! You chose to self-publish your book. What led you to that decision?

Lisa: I felt as though I wasted lots of time, decades actually, not working on building a career as an author. I wrote for work, so I kept my skills sharp, but for thirty years I didn’t write much that I could call my own. After I quit drinking, I took a writing course, and the woman who taught it recommended me to an agent. This was a great opportunity: I wasn’t just a random person sending this agent a query—I had an advantage. Unfortunately, she elected to take a pass after reading my first 100 pages. I wasn’t getting any younger, and I really didn’t want to waste any more time at that point. I’ve heard of people for whom it took years to find an agent and then several more years to find a publisher and a couple more years for the book to come out. I had already started doing research on self-publishing, so I chose to get busy making this happen for myself. As it turns out, I really enjoyed the process.

"It's never too late to bloom again and again. ... If you think you might have another bloom still in you, by all means do what you can to feed it and bring it into the light."

WOW: I love how you took that leap of faith in youself. I also love how you describe yourself as a repeat late bloomer. I kind of feel the same way about myself. What do you want to say for the late bloomers out there like yourself?

Lisa: It's never too late to bloom again and again. I felt stuck for a long time, stagnant. Once I got drinking out of the way, I started trying new things and writing for myself again. I felt as if I had been in a dormant phase, and now I was unfurling, like the leaves of a plant. I should add that it’s never too early, either. One of the things that held me back from quitting drinking sooner was that I didn’t think I had a serious problem. I hadn’t hit one of those big rock bottoms that you hear about. Luckily, I got tired of waiting for a big sign, and instead I started paying attention to the smaller signs. If you think you might have another bloom still in you, by all means do what you can to feed it and bring it into the light.

WOW: I love that! How inspiring. Confession: I'm an enormous fan of your book cover. Did you work with the cover designer on it?

Lisa: Thank you! I really enjoyed working with my cover artist, Mary Ann Smith. I found her on the Reedsy website, and once we had a contract, I sent her a bunch of covers that I liked, including one very specific image that I had in mind. She sent me five different rough ideas, and this one immediately grabbed my attention. It made me completely forget about my original idea. In fact, Mary Ann didn’t have to make many changes to the rough concept—I was absolutely smitten with it. We played around with the colors a bit but kept coming back to the same combination. I’m very pleased with how it conveys motion—it feels like a work in progress, like me.

WOW: Yes! Great description. What surrounds you as you write?

Lisa: I’m a visual person who likes to have everything where I can see it. So, I have a couple large white boards with To Do lists, accomplishments, and the contents of my books on them. I have Post-its in every color all over my walls with bits of information, key dates, and inspiring quotes. There’s so much swirling around in my brain that I need to see it in front of me. It might look chaotic to some people, but it keeps me sane.

WOW: I'm a big fan of organized chaos myself. What are you working on now that you can tell us about?

Lisa: My second book is about self-publishing. Through the course of researching how to self-publish my first book, I joined quite a few online support groups. Every day on those groups I see posts from aspiring authors who don’t know where to start and who aren’t sure if they can handle the marketing part of self-publishing. I wanted to write a book for them—to let them know that they, too, can do it. I want to prepare these future authors for the road ahead, because there’s a lot involved in publishing and marketing your own book, but also to inspire and encourage them. I plan to release it next spring, along with a workbook. 

WOW: I can't wait to see it! Best of luck on your book and your tour!

My Unfurling by Lisa May Bennett Blog Tour

-- Blog Tour Calendar

October 30th @ The Muffin
Join us at WOW while we celebrate the launch of My Unfurling by Lisa May Bennett. Read an interview with the author and enter for your chance to win a copy of her book.

October 30th @ Book Q&As
Visit Deborah's blog for a Q&A with author Lisa May Bennett.

November 2nd @ A Slice of Life
Visit Linda's blog for a guest post by Lisa May Bennett about being a caregiver for an aging parent while trying to stay sober.

November 3rd @ The Faerie Review
Lily shares a spotlight of My Unfurling on her blog.

November 5th @ A Storybook World
Join Deirdra for her spotlight of My Unfurling by Lisa May Bennett.

November 7th @ Sweet Silly Sara
Visit Sara's blog for her review of My Unfurling by Lisa May Bennett.

November 10th @ Chapter Break
Visit Julie's blog for a guest post by Lisa May Bennett about how her writing deepened and solidified her sobriety.

November 11th @ A Wonderful World of Books
Visit Joy's blog for a spotlight of My Unfurling by Lisa May Bennett.

November 13th @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Join Lisa for her interview with Lisa May Bennett, author of My Unfurling

November 15th @ Freeing the Butterfly
Visit Michelle's blog featuring a guest post by Lisa May Bennett about how anxiety played a part on her reliance on alcohol.

November 17th @ World of My Imagination
Visit Nicole's blog for a review of My Unfurling. 

November 18th @ Book Room Review
Don't miss a guest post by Lisa May Bennett about how being sober has helped her build self confidence and pursue her dreams.

November 20th @ Word Magic
Join Fiona's blog for a guest post by Lisa May Bennett about why your life doesn't have to be completely falling apart in order to benefit from giving alcohol the boot.

November 23rd @ Cheryl M-M's Book Blog
Visit Cheryl's blog for her review of My Unfurling by Lisa May Bennett.

November 25th @ A Wonderful World of Books
Don't miss a guest post by Lisa May Bennett about breaking old patterns and talking back to the voices inside her head.

November 28th @ Writer Advice
B. Lynn Goodwin shares her review of My Unfurling by Lisa May Bennett.

November 29th @ World of My Imagination
Visit Nicole's blog for a guest book reviewer who will be sharing their thoughts about Lisa May Bennett's memoir My Unfurling.

November 30th @ The Mommies Reviews
Glenda reviews My Unfurling, a memoir by Lisa May Bennett.

December 1st @ Fancy That!
Visit Nicole's blog for a guest post by Lisa May Bennett about going sober in middle age after decades of drinking.

December 3rd @ Nita Sweeney's blog
Join Nita for her review of My Unfurling by Lisa May Bennett. 

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

Enter to win a copy of the inspiring memoir, My Unfurling: Emerging from the Grip of Anxiety, Self-Doubt, and Drinking by Lisa May Bennett! Fill out the Rafflecopter form for a chance to win. The giveaway ends November 12th at 11:59 CT. We will choose a winner the next day and announce in the widget and follow up via email. Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Interview with Jennifer Gallo Gaites, First Place Winner in the Q4 2023 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest

Sunday, October 29, 2023
Jennifer Gallo Gaites is a writer from Fair Haven, NJ where she lives with her husband and three children. She writes mostly about family life and is working on a memoir in essays about the ever-shifting identity of motherhood. This essay will appear in HeartWood Literary Magazine's Issue 16, and her work has been published in Hippocampus and Literary Mama. She is a writing instructor at Project Write Now in Red Bank, NJ.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on winning first place in our Q4 2023 Creative Nonfiction essay competition! What inspired you to write your essay, “{ }nesting?” Clever use of the brackets, by the way.

Jennifer: Thank you! I was so excited by the news. I really liked this essay when I wrote it, but as time went on (and I received a number of rejections) I started to have doubts about it. I was thrilled it eventually found a home at HeartWood Literary Magazine. After the contest winners were announced, when the WOW! editors shared their feedback, I was so happy to hear that the essay resonated with other women.

I’ve become interested in the lyric essay, because I think it allows for an exploration of a few ideas at once. And it’s how I find my mind works lately…in kind of a meandering, uncertain way. This essay started as a funny look at my hair falling out—at what seems like an alarming rate–as I get older. Everyone I talked to said, “Oh, it’s normal.” But then I started thinking, “Well, what’s normal? Because none of this feels normal!” In some ways, I think I’ve felt that way through every stage of life. I’m lucky to have a lot of really cool, strong women around me, and I love talking to them about the different phases of life and how things change. And the idea of what we hold onto, and what we let go (willingly or not) is always on my mind lately. As for the brackets, I had a vague recollection of the empty set in math, but definitely had to look up the definition. I was psyched when it seemed to fit the piece.

WOW: As a busy mom, how do you find time to write? What works best for you?

Jennifer: It took me a long time to establish a writing habit. I used to just kind of have it on my to-do list…and, like everything else on that list, I kept pushing it off. We’ve all heard the advice to schedule our writing the way we would any other appointment. Following that advice has helped me establish a discipline. Now I look at my week and see which days I can write for only a short time, and which days I can sit in the chair for a few hours. I've noticed that if I don’t stick to my schedule, I feel out of sorts.

WOW: A good reminder about scheduling  writing appointments into the week! You mention in your bio that you’re working on a memoir in essays “about the ever-shifting identity of motherhood.” Can you tell us anything about it, and what your essay/memoir writing journey has been like so far?

Jennifer: Yes! Big, sweeping memoirs are fascinating, but I’m also drawn to stories about the smaller moments in life. When the kids were young, I felt like those early years of motherhood would last forever–it’s all-consuming. At some point, of course, we all realize how quickly it goes. Each stage of life feels like a process of re-discovering who we are. In terms of my writing journey, I’ve been fortunate to be part of an online book writing group. That has created accountability for me, and forced me to establish a regular writing practice. We not only set deadlines, check in with each other, and read each other's work, but we share the ups and downs of the creative process and submitting work.

WOW: Is there a particular memoir you think everyone needs to read, or a recent favorite?

Jennifer: There are so many great memoirs out. Since I’m drawn to essay collections, some of my favorites are Abigail Thomas’ Safekeeping, Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights, and Beth Ann Fennelly’s Heating & Cooling. I’m not sure if it’s technically a memoir, but I absolutely loved John Green’s The Anthropocene Reviewed.

WOW: I read Ross Gay's book a few months ago, and he's coming out with The Book of (More) Delights soon. Also John Green fan here; I went with one of my daughters to his Turtles All the Way Down multimedia event tour a few years ago, which was a great time. Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Jennifer. Before you go, can you share a favorite writing tip or piece of advice with our readers?

Jennifer: I’ve started to appreciate that writing begets writing. So, even if I’m short on time and can devote only half an hour in the morning, chances are I’ll continue to think about whatever I’m working on throughout the day…my brain keeps marinating and circling. Suddenly these little scraps of ideas will appear, and I can try to work them into something.


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Friday Speak Out!: How Book Clubs Can Improve Your Writing

Friday, October 27, 2023
by Sharon Virts

When it comes to penning your novel, there are so many contradictory methods and strategies to writing that it can be overwhelming. I mean, how do you know if your writing will delight an audience?

I know, because when I began crafting my first novel, finding my rhythm, building my story structure, and determining my writing style was quite challenging.

Surprisingly, it was my book club that helped me write with more confidence .

Start Or Join A Book Club

A book club with a diverse set of members is such a great place to gather input from other readers. You know what YOU like—but what would readers want from a book like yours?

Of course, being in a book club or hosting one like my Read With Sharon book club means you need to read. A lot. Which may seem counterintuitive. Shouldn’t you be using that precious time to write? In my opinion, you need to find time to do both and here’s why:

Reading leads to interesting discussions and debate—and those conversations lead to “ah-ha” moments as a writer.

“Oh, now I see why it was written that way.”

“Ah, that arrangement makes sense.”

“Hm, perhaps the author could have taken that in a better direction.”

“Wow, I might have written that ending a lot differently.”

These realizations lead to revelations (and epiphanies) in your own work.

How Book Clubs Improve Writing

Once you read more and have in-depth conversations with others about the books you are reading, your writing naturally improves. Your vocabulary builds and your technique expands.

Book club discussions provide different perspectives of readers—and you will write with a broader audience experience in mind.

Book club picks help you learn which genres and styles you gravitate toward, not only as a reader, but also as a writer. The choices and favorites of book club members also provide insight into trends and popularity of certain kinds of stories. This drives the commerciality of your writing which improves your prospects of getting published.

A book club community is an excellent source of support when you are writing a book. Knowing others who love to read and are excited about your project can provide encouragement when you hit those awful moments of writer’s block. Book club members are also a great source of beta readers for early drafts of your manuscript.

Interact With Other Authors

In my Read With Sharon book club, I invite the authors of our monthly picks to our zoom meeting to discuss their inspiration and the critical decision points they encountered during the writing process. I find these discussions extremely helpful in addressing my own challenges. There are podcasts and interviews of authors you can access online as well. Hearing the struggles of other authors in your genre and how they overcame them can be extremely helpful in facing your own challenges.

For me, reading is just as important as writing. Both reading and my book club have kept me in tune with the reader community and have helped improve my writing. Happy Reading!

* * *

Sharon Virts’ second historical novel, Veil of Doubt (Girl Friday Books), released October 10, 2023. Check out Sharon’s blog, follow her on Facebook and Instagram, or visit her at historic Selma Mansion in Leesburg, Virginia.

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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Never Stop Chasing Your Dreams – Persist and Write Till Christmas

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Write Till Christmas

My life has been all about persistence. I feel like I’ve fumbled my way through everything from work to motherhood, and writing is no different. 

When I opened Word intending to write a novel for the first time, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea where that desire would take me. And I couldn’t see how far I would have to come before I got even close to having any of my work published. But isn’t that the beauty of ignorance? It’s bliss to be in the moment, following your inspiration and not worrying about a goal post. 

I wonder, if I had known it would be 11 years before I got something published, would I have even started? Would I have bothered to enjoy the journey I had just begun? 11 years is a long time, so I think it’s safe to say I may not have troubled to finish that first manuscript. But here we are and I’m so glad I followed my heart. 

When you love something, time is but a number. 

I still remember sitting in my backyard, watching my first child toddle around while I enjoyed a slice of the chocolate brownie I’d just whipped up and blogged about being a stay-at-home mum and learning to cook aka Julie & Julia style. 

There were times when I rode that wave of beautiful creative momentum and then there came a time when I had to decide if I was willing to push myself to get to the end of my first manuscript. 

That’s what I want to talk about today. 

It’s great to blog and practice craft on short stories, but if you want to be a novelist then you need to prioritise your novel. Because procrastination comes in many forms, writerly ones too! So don’t be fooled. 

You will know when you are doing that writing course for good reason and when it’s taking time away from your manuscript. Time to read is great for the soul but, do you need to read that many books right now? By all means, I’m not suggesting that learning and reading are a waste of time, I’m drawing attention to the fact that you need to determine how you could best spend your time

Story Grid

I must confess, I recently got lost in the Story Grid wormhole and there was a point when I knew I’d got what I needed out of it but was still trying to create an infographic that resembles abstract art more than anything else and would be of no use to me. See pictured. That is not a swipe at the Story Grid system. All I’m saying is: There comes a time when you have to recognise what you want and when you want it. And YOU have to kick your own butt to make sure you put in the time to get that draft finished by Christmas, have those edits done by November, or send those queries out by next week. 

Some writers use NaNoWriMo for that end-of-the-year push. This year, I’ve decided to finish my draft before the holidays. I’ve promised my agent and gathered a great group of writers who are all here for the challenge - Write Till Christmas.

Write Till Christmas is something I’ve come up with because as much as I love NaNo, I just can’t write 50,000 words this November. But I can write 50,000 words by the end of the year. 

It’s time to take action! 

Remember: If you don’t check yourself, set goals, and plan towards finishing, then procrastination will take hold and before you know it; your writing dreams will push out to next year, when you turn forty, or when you get a yes. But let me tell you, after a yes, you still have to push yourself

An agent's job is to fall in love with a manuscript and get it in front of publishers, they are not going to push you to write your next novel while you are on sub, but that’s exactly what you should be doing. Waiting around for any yes is a waste of time. Take it from someone who’s been in that boat all year. 

 “A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.” – Helen Keller 

Full disclosure, the pending submissions with my current manuscript are rapidly dwindling. Do you know what that means? The road is bending and I’m ready to turn. I’ve recalculated the trip to my dreams, prepared if my first manuscript to go on sub doesn’t sell. 

By working on my next idea, I’ll be organised to go on sub all over again early next year, I’m persisting!  

So who’s with me for Write Till Christmas

Kelly Sgroi is based in Melbourne, Australia. Now represented by Beyond Words Literary Agency, Kelly is thrilled to be out of the query trenches and looking forward to what comes next in her writing journey. She’s also a content writer and an enthusiastic member of the writing community. Some of her short works are published by WOW! Women on Writing, Dream Journal, The Endometriosis Foundation of America, Endometriosis Australia, and a few Medium publications. Her debut manuscript is a women’s fiction story about motherhood.
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Interview With Renee Rockland, Runner-Up in the WOW! Spring Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, October 24, 2023


I'm so excited to be interviewing Renee Rockland, who joins us again as a runner-up in the WOW! Spring Flash Fiction Contest. Before we get to our interview, make sure you read her story Play At Your Own Risk then come on back.

First, here's more about Renee:

Renee Rockland is an award-winning short fiction and flash writer whose stories have appeared in a handful of anthologies including Beach Secrets and Beach Holidays (Cat & Mouse Press), The Year’s Best Dog Stories 2021 (Secant Publishing) and the forthcoming Winter Solstice (Devil’s Party Press) as well as a number of online publications. Her story, “Her Mark,” was a Runner-up in the Fall 2022 WOW! Flash Fiction Contest. A native of Iowa, she’s traded cornfields for seashores and resides with her wife, twin daughters and a menagerie of rescue and foster dogs in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where she happily hoards books and is a member of the Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild.

-- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: Congrats on winning runner-up! I LOVED the unfolding of this story. As a reader, I wasn't sure what to expect when the game begins but the ending put a smile on my face. What inspired this story?

Renee: I recently took a free one-week class from Nicole Breit on creative non-fiction. My preferred genre is fiction, but I’m always looking to improve my craft, so I stretched myself and was thrilled and surprised at how much I learned. Nicole is a gifted teacher whose advice is both accessible and immediately implementable (regardless of genre). In one of our mini lessons, we were challenged to tell in a story in a different format. (She gave the example of using the symbols in the legend of a map as story benchmarks.) While I was brainstorming, my mom called to tell me she was upset because her cable had been out for five days, and she was missing Jeopardy! The intersection of perspiration and inspiration is how I find most of my ideas, and this one was no different.  

WOW: I love how your moment with your mom led you to this storytelling technique! You had a wonderful way of adding some clever nonverbals (via the husband eating for example!). I love how you did that to convey emotion and the underlying truth behind what was going on. What was your approach in the writing process to incorporate those? 

Renee: When the idea for this story took root, I knew I wanted to have some fun with it. I love the juxtaposition of an emotionally charged, heavy subject (cheating) told in a light-hearted way. We were in the middle of the long, dark days of winter, and I was looking to make myself laugh. The protagonist’s husband is a cliché and a fool for cheating on his clearly brilliant wife, so I delighted in exaggerating his foolishness and putting him in a position in which he wasn’t calling the shots. I also love a good revenge story and was inspired by one of my favorite books/movies, The First Wives Club, as I was writing. One of the tenants of impactful storytelling is “show don’t tell,” and especially because he wasn’t my main character, and I didn’t want to introduce his POV, the only way for me to tell his story was by showing him reacting to the unfolding scene.

WOW: Ha, I love it! You have many short stories and flash fiction pieces published! Why do you love telling short stories?

Renee: When I first started wearing make-up, my mom’s favorite refrain was, “less is more.” To be fair, it was the 1980’s, and there’s plenty of photographic evidence of my affinity for blue eyeshadow. But her advice certainly applies to writing as well, and I love the challenge of mining small moments in life for larger emotional impact. In the end, regardless of character, it’s emotion that drives any story.

WOW: I have to laugh - I remember having a blue eyeshadow era, too. How did your story "Play At Your Own Risk" transform in the revision process?

Renee: I find that any story can be vastly improved if it’s allowed to marinate after the initial writing/revision process, and this one was no different. The bones were there from the beginning, but I kept picking at it over several months. In fact, the Tammy Wynette reference at the end was late to the party. My first several clues for Final Jeopardy! just weren’t hitting the mark. I knew there had to be something better, but I was stumped. So I put the story away and worked on other pieces in the pipeline. One day I Googled “divorce,” and several rabbit holes later, Tammy’s song came up. It was such a natural fit—like finally finding the perfect pair of jeans after trying on 884 pair—that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it earlier. It’s those lightbulb moments, the satisfaction of feeling like you cracked a code that propel me to persevere, especially when my writing’s not going well. 

WOW: I know that feeling! So, what does your writing space look like?

Renee: I love this question for two reasons: first, I adore when other writers share details about their writing space. It’s kind of like driving around at night so you can see inside other people’s homes or watching House Hunters on HGTV. And second, because my writing space has morphed over the years. I feel incredibly fortunate to have a home office where I do the bulk of my work. (And make no mistake, it is work.) It has a door, so I can shut out the chaos (cluttered desktop notwithstanding), but I’ve learned it’s not the only place I can write (which is what I used to think). And that thinking was holding me back. I justified not writing because I thought if I couldn’t have long stretches of uninterrupted time in my office, then it wasn’t even worth trying. But perfection is the enemy of progress, so I readjusted by thinking and started writing in small bursts, taking advantage of wherever I happen to be. Sometimes I’m sitting in my car waiting to be Uber-Mom. Sometimes I’m sitting on my couch or the beach or a park bench. The writing I do outside my office may not be as focused, but I’ve found that once I’m back in my office, I can dive deeply more quickly because of the work I’ve done elsewhere.

WOW: Great tips on why you should have your own space! What are you working on next that you can tell us about?

Renee: Inspired by my class with Nicole Breit, I’m working on my first piece of creative non-fiction. It’s a stretch for me, but when I feel daunted or insecure, I just remind myself that in the end, my writing is first and foremost, for me. A creative outlet that enriches both my internal and external life. I don’t have to share it with anyone. My decision to do so is a choice. And choice is power. I know that if I do decide to share it, I’ll enter it in one of WOWs creative non-fiction contests and pay for a critique because the feedback I’ve received for my past entries has been thoughtful and encouraging and only helped to strengthen my writing.

WOW: Best of luck on your creative non-fiction work! We can't wait to read it. Congratulations again!
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Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, October 23, 2023


Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin

I'm excited to announce the launch of Joan M. Griffin's blog tour for her book Force of Nature. This book is perfect for every woman with adventurous spirit or for any hikers, nature lovers, and armchair adventurers. 

Today, you'll have a chance to win a copy of the book and learn more about the author and her writing journey.  

First, here's more information about Force of Nature:

Three friends, women in their fifties, set out to hike “the most beautiful long-distance trail in the world,” the John Muir Trail. From the outset, their adventure is complicated by self-inflicted accidents and ferocious weather, then enriched when they “adopt” a young hiker abandoned by her partner along the trail.

The women experience the terror of lightning at eleven-thousand feet, the thrill of walking through a towering waterfall, and the joy of dancing among midnight moonshadows. For a month, they live immersed in vast natural beauty, tackle the trail’s physical demands, and find camaraderie among an ensemble cast of eccentric trail characters. Together, they are pulled forward toward the trail’s end atop the highest peak in the High Sierra, Mt. Whitney, and the culmination of their transformative journey.

Publisher: Black Rose Writing (September 2023)
ISBN-10: 1685132812
ISBN-13: 9781685132811
Print length: 396 pages

Purchase a copy of the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Make sure you also add it to your GoodReads reading list.

About the Author, Joan M. Griffin

Joan lives under the spell of wanderlust. She takes wing, whenever possible, for actual destinations near and far and for literary locales in the pages of books. A native Californian, Joan lives in the Northern California foothills of the majestic Sierra Nevada, a world she loves exploring. Joan navigated her way through two careers—marketing computers, then sailboats—before applying her love of storytelling to her dual passions for teaching and writing.

In addition to working on her next book, Joan teaches women's history and literature for the OLLI
programs at Sierra College and UC Davis Extension.

You can find her online at:

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: Congratulations on your memoir, Force of Nature! Why did you decide to write a memoir about your experience?

Joan: I had such an amazing experience hiking the John Muir Trail that, when I got back, I wanted to tell everyone. But I found it difficult to put it into words when I was talking to someone. It was too big, too majestic, too grand. My short descriptions fell far short. I decided the only way to convey the whole story was to tell the whole story, not just bits and pieces. So I spent 10 years writing it down and polishing it. Now, people can go with me and experience the whole amazing adventure and witness the wild beauty of the environment.

WOW: That's amazing! To have that kind of experience that's so big that you need to turn it into a novel is incredible. I love all the challenges you describe in such incredible, entertaining detail. I imagine it was hard to know what to include when putting your memoir together. How did you make those decisions during the writing process?

Joan: When I began writing this book fifteen years ago, I didn't really know how to go about writing a book; I was a complete novice. So I wrote the fun parts first—the stories that involved interesting trail people or exciting events. I wrote them totally out of order—just writing what I was inspired to write. They were the stories I could see so clearly that I didn't need to refer to my journal or the 100s of photos we'd taken. Once I got more serious, I took writing classes and joined an amazing critiquing group, the Willow Valley Writers, a group of talented women I've now worked with for a decade. That's when I put stories in order, connecting them and filling in all the gaps. I eventually ended up with 170,000 words! I had to start cutting, while at the same time revising and refining, making every single word count. A lot of "my darlings" were left on the "cutting room floor." I had the help of the Willow Valley Writers and my editor/book coach. As a result of all that cutting, my writing is tighter, clearer, and more effective. Interestingly, at the very end of the process, I had to go back and actually add a few important things—personal reflections—that I believe make it a richer, more personal and more universal story.

WOW: How awesome you found such an inspirational group to work with you on polishing your book. You provide such rich detail about the settings! How did you manage to capture it so well in your writing process?

Joan: Thank you. I really appreciate you saying that. I worked especially hard on using very specific sensory details and imagery and metaphor in my attempt to transport my readers to the trail, to the Sierra. The John Muir Trail wanders through the heart of the mountains, through some of the most beautiful wild places in the world—lush old forests, vibrant meadows filled with wildflowers, and bare granite mountaintops with views that go forever. Not many people get the opportunity to experience that wildness, that grandeur, that kind of beauty. A lot of people yearn to, but are never able to make the adventure happen for themselves. I wanted to describe it so clearly that readers would be immersed, transported. I wanted readers to feel like they were there with me, experiencing what I experienced—seeing, smelling, hearing, feeling the places right along with me.

WOW: You certainly succeeded in doing that! I feel like this book represents some major milestones! A huge hiking accomplishment and your first book. How did it feel to accomplish so much?

Joan: It does. I was at a low point when I began to plan to backpack the John Muir Trail. I saw it as a test and an opportunity and a way out of my depths. The month-long journey with my two friends was life-changing. It took a while to realize just how it changed me, but eventually, I discovered just how much more courage and determination and peace I had inside myself. Accomplishing a difficult thing, overcoming huge challenges, changes you in a way that lets you take on new and different challenges without quite so much fear or anxiety. I hiked the JMT in 2006. In 2007, I began a masters degree program, graduating in 2009. In 2010, I began learning how to write this book, while I was still teaching full time. After I retired in 2015, I dove in and made writing this book a major focus. Accomplishing one hard thing empowers you to accomplish another hard thing and another and another. I do feel like I have a lot to celebrate right now, and it's thrilling. But it's also humbling. I am grateful to so many people who encouraged and mentored me along the way.

WOW: I fully believe that too! How awesome you had so much support. What have you learned within the writing and publishing process that you want to share with others?

Joan: There's a common stereotype of the lonely writer sitting up in a small garret apartment with a whiskey bottle close at hand. In the movies, writing is described as an isolating endeavor. I think that couldn't be further from the truth. I am a much better writer because of the time I spend with other writers. I belong to two small critique groups, the Willow Valley Writers and the Picnic Table Writers, and one larger group, Gold Country Writers. My writing friends and colleagues keep me accountable, they raise the bar of writing quality, they encourage me. They teach me new skills and demonstrate the art and provide examples of writing brilliance. My book would never have made it across the finish line without all those people on my team. So my advice is to find your team. Get involved with writing groups. Seek out advice and feedback. Commit to plans and deadlines. And then give that back to the other writers on your team.

WOW: So true! Surrounding yourself with fellow writers means so much. What advice do you have for women who either want to set out to accomplish a major adventure like you did or publish a book and they worry it's too late?

Joan: This is a hard question, because there are things that, at nearly 70, I can no longer do or aspire to do. I won't hike the John Muir Trail or any other backpacking trail again. But there are countless things I can and will do in my 70s and 80s and beyond. My wild adventures may be past me, but gentler adventures still lay ahead. And lots of writing is definitely in my future. So advice? Be realistic, but be bold. Know what you can do, and then do it. Take a big goal, break it down into little pieces, and start. Put one foot in front of the other. Put one word down and then another and another. I started writing Force of Nature by writing one story, the story of the lightning storm at 10,000 feet. Then I wrote the story of walking through the waterfall. One little story after another.

WOW: What beautiful and inspiring advice! What are you working on now that you can tell us about?

Joan: I've begun writing another memoir. It's been sitting on the back burner for a couple months while I focus on the launch of Force of Nature, but I'll pick it back up in the new year, because I think it's important to write. I was adopted as an infant in the 1950s, something that was not uncommon back then. I always knew I was adopted, but it was a closed adoption, so no information about my birth-parents was given to my "real" parents. As an adult, I have now met both of my birth-families, and we make an interesting group. That's become a pretty common situation these days, because of AncestryDNA. It seems everyone is finding a secret or long-lost relative. All of the stories are interesting, but what I find fascinating about my story is that none of the tales my generation has heard match up. The four people who made all those big decisions back in the fifties are long gone, so there's no one to ask anymore. But the three sets of family legends around my birth do not align. What is the truth? How did the stigma of "out of wedlock" pregnancy and birth influence people's perceptions and the stories they created to explain the facts? I think it will be interesting to work with my newly found half-siblings to research and to speculate. It's kind of a "Who am I?" story.

WOW: I can't wait to read it. Best of luck on your and congrats again on your book!

Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin Blog Tour

--- Blog Tour Calendar

October 23rd @ The Muffin
Join us at The Muffin as we celebrate the launch of Joan M. Griffin's memoir Force of Nature. You'll get the chance to read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.

October 23rd @ Rockin' Book Reviews
Visit Lu Ann's blog for her review of Force of Nature. You also get a chance to win a copy of the book!

October 23rd @ Just Katherine
Join Katherine who is featuring an excerpt of Force of Nature on her blog today.

October 24th @ Just Katherine
Visit Katherine's blog again where she features a guest post by Joan M. Griffin about immersing your reader in sensory details.

October 25th @ One Writer's Journey
Visit Sue's blog for her review of Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin.

October 25th @ Rockin' Book Reviews
Lu Ann shares a guest post by Joan M. Griffin about the John Muir Trail, the most beautiful long-distance trail in the world.

October 27th @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Join Lisa for her interview with Joan M. Griffin, author of Force of Nature.

October 29th @ The Mommies Reviews
Join Glenda for her review of Force of Nature.

October 30th @ Choices
Join Madeline for a guest post by Joan M. Griffin about why you should write your life story.

November 1st @ One Writer's Journey
Join Sue for her interview with Joan M. Griffin about her writing journey and her book Force of Nature.

November 1st @ Pages and Paws
Join Kristine's blog for her review of Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin.

November 2nd @ A Storybook World
Join Deirdra for a guest post by Joan M. Griffin about smart planning for a major challenge.

November 3rd @ Stranded In Chaos
Sara shares a spotlight of Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin.

November 6th @ Maddie Gudenkauf's blog
Join Maddie for her review of Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin. Don't miss her review of this inspiring book!

November 7th @ Fancy That!
Visit Nicole's blog for a guest post by Joan M. Griffin about five things she learned hiking the John Muir trail.

November 8th @ Sara Strand
Sara shares a review of Force of Nature on her Instagram page today. Don't miss it!

November 9th @ Knotty Needle
Visit Judy's blog for her review of Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin.

November 10th @ Chapter Break
Visit Julie's blog for a guest post by Joan M. Griffin about the difference between memoir and autobiography.

November 11th @ Three Things on a Saturday Night
Join Nicole as she features Joan M. Griffin on her Substack, 3 Things on a Saturday Night.

November 12th @ Shoe's Seeds and Stories
Join Linda for her review of Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin.

November 13th @ Boys' Mom Reads
Join Karen for her review of Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin.

November 15th @ World of My Imagination
Join Nicole for her review of Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin. You also have a chance to win a copy of the book too!

November 17th @ Deborah-Zenha Adams' blog
Join Deborah for a guest post by Joan M. Griffin about hiking as walking meditation. You'll also have a chance to win a copy of the book, too!

November 19th Shoe's Seeds and Stories
Visit Linda's blog again for a guest post by Joan M. Griffin about the healing hand of nature.

November 21st @ Musings of a Literary Wanderer
Join Angela for her feature of an excerpt from Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin.

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

Enter to win a copy of the inspiring memoir, Force of Nature by Joan M. Griffin! Fill out the Rafflecopter form for a chance to win. The giveaway ends November 5th at 11:59 pm CT. We will randomly choose a winner the next day and announce in the Rafflecopter widget and follow up by email. Good luck!

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Friday Speak Out!: Writing Diverse Characters

Friday, October 20, 2023
by Karen Klink

As a white female who grew up outside Akron, Ohio, I found that writing a 19th century historical novel featuring a bisexual young man and a young black slave who he considered his brother to be a fascinating and sometimes risky journey. I wanted to explore the multifaceted aspects of writing diverse characters, the significance of historical accuracy, and the delicate balance between representation and sensitivity.

To lay a sturdy foundation, I first delved into literature written by and about gay and black men, like Alan Hollinghurst, Jonathan Ned Katz, Malcolm X, Robert Jones, Jr., and Colson Whitehead. This helped me to understand the experiences, perspectives, and challenges faced by the characters I wished to portray.

Attending webinars and classes on diversity further enriched my knowledge of diversity. I highly recommend these classes for anyone who wishes to write about diverse characters. Writing groups, such as Authors Guild, offer these and other webinars to their members.

Lastly, I hired sensitivity readers for my novel as a vital step in ensuring that my characters were authentic and respectful representations of the communities to which they belong.

Historical Accuracy vs. Modern Sensibilities

One of the central dilemmas in writing diverse characters set in a historical context is the tension between historical accuracy and modern sensibilities. It’s crucial to portray the attitudes and norms of the time accurately, even if they may be uncomfortable or offensive to contemporary readers. This authenticity allows readers to understand the complexities of the past and how far society has come to the present day.

However, balancing historical accuracy with sensitivity requires subtly. It’s essential to approach sensitive topics with care, ensuring that they are neither sensationalized nor glossed over. By delving into the emotional and psychological depth of characters, I hoped to create a nuanced portrayal that resonates with readers while respecting historical context.

Diversity and Empathy

Writing diverse characters requires empathy. Putting myself in my characters’ shoes, regardless of their backgrounds, helped authentically capture their experiences, emotions, and growth. Empathy bridged the gap between me and my characters, allowing their stories to unfold with authenticity.

Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that narratives surrounding diverse characters have evolved over time. My novel, set in the 19th century, captures a particular moment in history. Contemporary authors may approach similar themes differently, reflecting the progress and changing perspectives of society. As an author, I have the freedom to choose the historical context that best serves my narrative while respecting the past.

The journey I embarked upon through research, education, and collaboration with sensitivity readers underscores my commitment to honest storytelling. By striking a balance between historical accuracy and sensitivity, I allow readers to engage with my characters in a way that both enlightens and entertains. I hope that all my work exemplifies the power of literature to illuminate the diverse tapestry of human experiences across time.

* * *

Karen Anne Klink is a writer based in Tucson. Her debut novel, At What Cost, Silence? (She Writes Press, 10/17/23) is the first installment in her Texian trilogy.
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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Ten Things I've Learned About Publishing a Book

Thursday, October 19, 2023
1. Everything takes longer than planned. (You would assume by now that I’d just plan on an hour to get something done, but no, that would be learning from past experience. Apparently, I continue to cling to the hope that whatever it is, I can finish in twenty minutes.) 

2. A Technology Glitch will occur at the worst moment. (Which may or may not have some bearing on anything taking at least an hour to complete.) 

3. It is possible to find any answer to any problem. (The trick is figuring out exactly how to phrase the problem. Specificity is the key! And um… perhaps swallowing pride and checking before wasting that hour in the first place.) 

4. Comparison is good, up to a point. (Comparing book covers to determine likes and dislikes in cover design turned out to be a smart move. But constantly comparing rankings, sales, followers or any statistic in which one might compare unfavorably, is not so smart, and steals all the good vibes. As a smart Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”) 

5. Investing in the product is money well spent. (Using professionals for the book cover and editing, plus buying a pro formatting program, definitely paid off in a superior product. The self-publishing market is jam-packed, especially with AI now pushing out books in a matter of hours, but it’s obvious, even to the casual eye, the books that have been thoughtfully and professionally designed and produced.) 

6. Marketing is harder than it looks. (Harder in a gosh-there’s-a-LOT-to-do kind of way and just when one thinks one might have covered all the marketing bases, oops! Something else pokes its head up, like those moles in Whack-a-Mole. Which brings us back to #1 on the list.) 

7. Friends and family can be surprisingly supportive. (It’s remarkably humbling when people support you so much that they’ll buy your book even if they have no idea what a cozy mystery is. Or if they’re not really readers. Or if they haven’t seen you in years or honestly, didn’t even know you’d been writing for years.) 

8. Never underestimate old-fashioned word-of-mouth. (It only takes one or two friends talking about the book in a group to start the ball rolling, so to speak. Before long, everyone in the group wants to be part of the excitement. It’s the FOMO--Fear of Missing Out—phenomenon at work. And it’s something to see! 

9. Reviews are a tough sell. (All kinds of folks will buy and actually read a book and rave about it—but find it intimidating to write a review. No matter how much you explain that giving stars is enough or writing a few sentences is fine, some folks just will not write a review. And then one must remember why one published the book in the first place.) 

10. Publishing a book is amazing! (And fingers crossed, you’ll remember everything you learned before you publish the next book!)

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Time to Write by Emily Winslow: Reader Review Event and Giveaway

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Time to Write by Emily Winslow Reader Review Event

Today, I am excited to announce the launch of a special reader review event with author Emily Winslow. Below, our readers share their insights into her book Time to Write.

You'll have the chance to find out more about this book and the author Emily Winslow. Join us as we celebrate this inspiring author and her latest release.

First, here's more about the book:

Time to Write by Emily Winslow
Have you always wanted to write a novel?

Emily Winslow will help you develop the mindset and skills to get you started, keep you going, and see you through. Time to Write is a creative writing guide aimed at anyone who wants to write a novel and could use some support.

It contains 49 lessons, each easy to read and packed with insights based on experience. Emily has taken her own work to high levels with major publishers, and has learned from teaching at Cambridge University what makes students light up and what makes their work drastically, excitingly improve.

This book is full of encouragement, recognizing and affirming different work styles. It's a total handbook, teaching a broad range of specific writing skills with insight and clarity as well as covering topics around writing in-depth, such as how to give and take critique and how to evaluate publishers and agents.

It's time to write the stories inside you!

Print length: 275 pages

Popular life and business coach Kristen King recognizes the value of creative writing on mental health and self image:

“Emily’s insights skillfully draw out not just words and stories, but also self-awareness, perspective, and connection. Whether you're working on a book-length project, dabbling in personal essay, or just trying to figure out who the hell you are, this book is a must-have for anyone who thinks their words and stories aren't enough.” 

Purchase a copy of Time to Write by visiting AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboApple Books, and Make sure you also add Time to Write to your Goodreads reading list.

Also available at:

Here's what WOW! readers had to say:

In my opinion, Time To Write is one of the best creative writing guides that I've come across, not merely because the author clearly knows what she is talking about, but because she is genuinely encouraging and enthusiastic. She explains that in most instances there are no hard and fast rules about writing - it's your novel, you write it how you want to write it, but where there are rules she explains them and why they are important. ~ Helen Hollick, author
One of the book's standout features is its ability to speak to a diverse audience. Whether you're a seasoned writer looking for a fresh perspective or someone just starting, Winslow's words resonate. Reading Time to Write is like having a mentor in paperback form. Winslow doesn't just teach you about writing, but she includes important lessons on various topics surrounding writing such as publishing, marketing, and mindset.  She empowers you to believe in your own voice and stories. For anyone starting their writing journey or looking for renewed inspiration, this book is not just a recommendation—it's a necessity. ~ Michelle Cornish
Winslow’s love for creative writing clearly shines through the pages, and I would love to have had her as a professor when I was still in college. I cannot recommend this enough, whether you’re just starting out on your journey, somewhere in the middle, or more experienced and looking to improve your craft. A must-read for creative writers! ~ Lilyana Shadowlyn 
Time to Write is a masterful compendium of thoughts, ideas, information and lessons for ANY writer, not just those who've already published or those writing novels. Short chapters zeroing in on writing specifics such as POV, Metaphors and Similes, Showing and Telling, First Person, Third Person, etc. are given with unique samples and examples. Laced in with the basics are tidbits of Ms. Winslow's philosophy of writing; things you'll not find in any other book on writing, such as the importance of daydreaming, brainstorming and what-iffing to the writing process.

I binge read this book on writing! Who does that? It's that good. I wish it had been available before I finished my novel. If you can only buy one book on writing, buy this one! You won't go wrong with TIME TO WRITE! ~ Sandra Warren

What a wonderful book on writing this is! Author Emily Winslow takes you through every stage and aspect of writing a book. From gathering ideas to your writing technique to word choices to dialogue to everything else in between, she offers helpful tips to help you get out of your own way and write. What I loved was how short and easy to read the chapters were. She provides just enough information for you to feel as if you really gained enough material about a topic and leave you with thoughts on how to possibly change your approach. She's not about hard and firm rules but rather offering you a perspective on maybe a better way. Definitely a book I recommend! ~ Nicole Pyles 

 Insightful, bite-sized masterclasses, and so easy to read!

When I started it, pen and paper ready, I had expectations of moving through this book like a writing workshop. Instead, I found myself gobbling up each chapter the same way I'd rush through a captivating novel. ~ Kirsten Webster

I often wonder if reading another craft book will help me on my writing journey. Sometimes I am disappointed, but in this case, I found a lot to love about this book.

The book is broken down into seven sections in an easy to read, straightforward manner. First, Winslow outlines the two different skills that are necessary for writers to have—writing and storytelling. Writing skills discussed include everything from metaphors and similes to showing and telling to flashbacks and exposition. Storytelling skills include structure, plot, and scenes. Winslow continues on with sections on technical skills (such as, punctuation, and transitions), facing the middle (cause and effect, revelations), being understood by others (depth, clarity), the professional life (publishers, agents), and your future.

My favourite section is “Being Understood by Others”, which goes in depth into critiques, something which is a continual source of frustration to many writers including me. I love how Winslow states that praise is just as important as criticism, how criticism is not supposed to be thought of as fixing something bad, but making something good become even better, and how there is a difference between critiquing intention and execution (hint: one is a no no).

I unearthed many other tiny gems throughout the book, such as the most important part of description is its relevance. I recommend this to any writer wherever you are on your writing journey. ~ Linda Schueler 
Wow, what a treat to read this comprehensive writing guide from acclaimed author Emily Winslow! Writers of all levels can find takeaways here. For example, the key to description and metaphor is character relevance. You can share a character’s height, but it’s more relevant to say that the top row of cabinets in her kitchen go unused and that’s why she never noticed a mysterious box. There are short, succinct chapters on POV, flashbacks and exposition, dialogue, and more. All include eye opening examples from authors and Emily’s own work! She dives into outlining and plotting and what makes readers turn the page, which she describes as wonder and worry. Every chapter needs action, even if it’s as simple as a character putting on makeup; but the relevance would be that the character is doing it to prepare for manipulating someone. There are a couple of sections on blurbs and an extensive section on technical. My favorite chapter may be the one on middles, since I don’t think they’re covered enough. Emily provides a plethora of ideas to twist the middle and change the way you think about your story. She even covers the elusive feedback of clarity, when a reader doesn’t understand the piece, and provides fixes. This type of instruction can only come from a seasoned author.

But this book covers more than the craft of writing; it’s also about the business. Emily talks about publishing, traditional and indie, and money! Royalties, advances, and the downsides, like what happens to that advance when your book doesn’t sell well. She covers agents, rejection, and the professional rollercoaster of being a career author. Emily also provides a lot of encouragement. In the opening, she says it’s easy to get down on ourselves when we don’t write, but that is dismissing the value of non-writing work and the gifts they contain. I also believe there is value in non-writing, whether gathering life experience or daydreaming or chores. That’s where my best writing ideas manifest! 

For a complete writing guide full of sparks and fantastic insights, I highly recommend Time to Write by Emily Winslow. Emily’s guide brims with her passion for storytelling and helping other writers succeed in the craft and business of writing. ~ Angela Mackintosh

More about author Emily Winslow:

Emily Winslow
Emily Winslow is the author of a series of crime novels and a memoir. Her books have been published by Random House, HarperCollins, Allison & Busby, and Shanghai Translation Publishing House.

Her novels (The Whole World, The Start of Everything, The Red House, and Look For Her) have been called “brilliant” (The Washington Post), “vivid” (Parade magazine) and “dazzling” (Shelf Awareness). Her memoir, Jane Doe January, is “meticulously constructed and ultimately terrifying” (The New York Times), “potent” (Kirkus), and “compelling” (Bustle).

She grew up in the U.S. and now lives in Cambridge, England teaching for the University of Cambridge and for Cambridge Creative Writing Company.

***** BOOK GIVEAWAY *****

Enter to win a copy of Time to Write: Inspiring lessons and practical skills for writing the novel you've always wanted by Emily Winslow! Fill out the Rafflecopter form for a chance to win. The giveaway ends on October 31st at 11:59 pm CT. We will randomly choose two winners the next day and announce in the Rafflecopter widget and will follow up by email. Good luck!

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