Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Washington, DC-based BV Lawson’s stories have won the Dillydoun Flash Fiction Prize, SMFS Derringer, Noir Nation Golden Fedora, and Gemini Awards. She’s also been longlisted for the New Writers Flash Competition and Fish Short Story Prize; shortlisted for Flash 500 Quarterly and Anthology Magazine short story awards; and chosen as a finalist for the Pulpfictional Flash Contest and Tucson Festival of Books Literary Competition. BV’s Scott Drayco novels have been a featured Library Journal pick and finalists for Shamus, Silver Falchion, Daphne, and Foreword Book Reviews Awards, with her eighth Drayco novel to be published this spring. 

She enjoys flying with her husband above the Chesapeake Bay in a little Cessna. 

Visit her website at - no ticket required. 

If you haven't read her story, "Chrysalis," take moment to this piece of flash before coming back her to learn more about her writing.

-------interview by Sue Bradford Edwards-------

WOW: What was your inspiration for “Chrysalis?” 

BV: It’s hard to say where ideas originate sometimes, but with “Chrysalis,” the first line just popped into my head one day, unbidden. I’d been reading a lot beforehand on young women and body image disorders, and somehow that first line morphed into this little tale of a mother and daughter’s fraught relationship over their perceptions of what “beauty” really is. 

WOW: Your narrator in “Chrysalis” knows the names of so many butterflies but we never learn her name. How did you decide what to reveal and what to conceal? 

BV: That, too, can be a bit mystical, since with some stories—like this one—I’m able to sit down and write without pause or much editing. But I do subconsciously create backstories for characters, and I like to think in this case that the narrator is a closet science geek, one of many reasons she and her mother don’t see eye-to-eye. In many cases, the characters seem to write themselves. 

WOW: You have so much experience writing flash. What advice do you have for our readers who aren’t sure how to start writing flash? I adore flash fiction! 

BV: It seems so simple, and yet every single word counts. There are many writing prompts all over the internet, and it can be helpful to grab one that interests you and write a paragraph about it. Then you spin that paragraph into another, and before long, you have a tight little story. It also helps to read a lot of flash fiction in various genres. 

WOW:  It's always interesting the way different genres can feed what you are creating. In addition to writing flash, you write a crime fiction series. How do these two types of writing play off each other? 

BV: With novels, I have a lot more room to “play” with words, although I always wanted my crime fiction series to have poetry underlying it. My earliest writings (and publications) were actually in poetry, a genre my mother loved and shared with me. I hope that no matter how short or long my works may be, those hints of poetry will always shine through. 

WOW: A background in poetry?  That makes sense given the figurative language in your story. “Chrysalis” features details about butterflies. Music features prominently in the Drayco series. How do you use these topics to enrich the stories in which they appear? 

BV: The butterflies in “Chrysalis” were integral to the daughter’s character and life experience, and music is integral to the character of Scott Drayco, since he began his life as a concert pianist before tragedy ended that dream. In a sense, butterflies represent how the narrator in “Chrysalis” views herself and her life, just as music represents a lens through which Drayco sees his world. Butterflies are also usually quite colorful, too, and Drayco has a form of synesthesia, where he experiences all music and sounds as colors, shapes, textures, and even tastes. Art = life = art.

WOW:  Thank you for giving our readers so much to think about!  Thank you for taking the time out of your writing schedule to be here with us.
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Dancing Between the Raindrops by Lisa Braxton: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, April 29, 2024
Dancing Between the Raindrops by Lisa Braxton
This is a book for readers who enjoy reading personal essays and learning about the African American experience. This is also a book for those who are grieving or suffering a loss. 

"Dancing Between the Raindrops is a heartfelt homage to Braxton's parents in the wake of their passing. She touches the soul of every adult child's mourning in ways poignant, nostalgic, aching, and funny with a clever patchwork of writing styles. A must-read!"

--E. Dolores Johnson, author of Say I'm Dead, A Family Memoir of Race, Secrets and Love

"With photographs, letters, music, and other archival materials, Braxton constructs a daughter's loving portrait of her parents while fulfilling and honoring her mother's missed opportunities and dreams of writing. The memoir time travels to a past that grieves those who are gone while not being afraid to tell the parts about how antiBlack racism and white supremacy imposed itself, limiting and constraining people's lives. And yet, the fact that this powerful book exists is evidence of how love, creativity, stories, and the human spirit triumphs and overcomes. Read this book! You will be better for it."

--Grace Talusan, author of The Body Papers: A Memoir

Before we interview the author here's a bit more about the book:

Dancing Between the Raindrops: A Daughter’s Reflections on Love and Loss, is a powerful meditation on grief, a deeply personal mosaic of a daughter’s remembrances of beautiful, challenging and heartbreaking moments of life with her family. It speaks to anyone who has lost a loved one and is trying to navigate the world without them while coming to terms with complicated emotions.

Lisa Braxton’s parents died within two years of each other—her mother from ovarian cancer, her father from prostate cancer. While caring for her mother she was stunned to find out that she, herself, had a life-threatening illness—breast cancer.

In this intimate, lyrical memoir-in-essays, Lisa Braxton takes us to the core of her loss and extends a lifeline of comfort to anyone who needs to be reminded that in their grief they are not alone.

PUBLISHER: Sea Crow Press
ISBN-13: 978-1961864085
Print Length: 158 pages

You can purchase a copy of the book on AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Make sure to add it to your Good Reads list.

About the Author, Lisa Braxton

Lisa Braxton is the author of the novel, The Talking Drum, winner of a 2021 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Book Awards Gold Medal, overall winner of Shelf Unbound book review magazine’s 2020 Independently Published Book Award, and winner of a 2020 Outstanding Literary Award from the National Association of Black Journalists and a Finalist for the International Book Awards. She is also an Emmy-nominated former television journalist, an essayist, and short story writer. 

She is on the executive board of the Writers Room of Boston and a writing instructor at Grub Street Boston, and currently serves as President of the Greater Boston Section of the National Council of Negro Women and is a member of the Psi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

You can find her online at:

Twitter/X: @Lisaannbraxton  OR @LisaReidbraxton 
Instagram: @lisabraxton6186 

--- Interview by Jodi M. Webb

WOW: Congratulations on Dancing Between the Raindrops! I love that your memoir is a combination of many different types of writing: poetry, press releases, news scripts, letters as well as more traditional memoir writing. What made you decide to include so many varieties of writing?

Lisa: My memoir explores family. The joys, the sweet reminiscences, and sorrow in the face of illness and loss. These are weighty topics. I want the reader to stay with me as I describe my journey with my parents until they passed away. By using different forms, such as a crossword puzzle, and press releases I was able to add some tasteful humor and give a lighter touch to tough topics. In spite of the overarching theme of grief, readers have told me they were touched by my stories and some of the situations I focused on made them laugh out loud.

WOW: I’m a failed journaler so I always ask memoir authors: Do you keep a journal?

Lisa: I don’t keep a journal. I never have. But as my journalism career came to a conclusion, I began to write creatively, crafting short stories and essays. I had success getting much of my writing published in literary magazines and anthologies. When my mother and father’s health began to fail dramatically—my father from dementia and Parkinson’s disease and my mother from ovarian cancer—I reflected on my childhood, what they were like when they were young parents and full of energy, rites of passage in my life and theirs. The writing was cathartic. After they both had died, I enrolled in some classes on writing about grief, which helped me keep up the momentum of my writing on the topic and also helped me deal with the mental exhaustion from my grief.

WOW: I find writing classes invigorating. Tell us about something you gained in your class.

Lisa: In the grief writing classes we were encouraged to experiment with different narrative forms and poetry. I became fascinated by the idea of crafting hermit crab essays, which are a bit like actual hermit crabs in that they are essays that takes on the existing form (as if a shell) of another type of writing. The “Comforter-in-Chief” job description is one example and the two-part news script about the search for my father who had wandered across a highway ramp is another. 

WOW: Your first book was the novel The Talking Drum. What made you decide to write your second book as a memoir?

Lisa: I call myself an accidental memoirist. I had no intention of writing a memoir. In fact, I had been working on my second novel and put it aside when my mother got sick. The memoir evolved organically when I realized that I had dozens upon dozens of pages of essays on the topic of family and grieving. I contacted about a dozen small presses pitching my pages as a chapbook. Within days I got a response from Sea Crow Press, an award-winning woman-run independent publisher based on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Publisher Mary Petiet said that she wasn’t interested in a chapbook, but a full-length book and if I thought I could hand in a manuscript of at least 100 pages, she’d send me a contract. I, of course, said yes. And that’s how my writing became a memoir in essays.

WOW: Can you compare writing a novel and writing a memoir? 

Lisa: Writing a memoir was more emotionally wrenching than writing the novel because the memoir was personal. I was writing about my family and myself. I had to revisit a lot of memories and dig deep into my grieving while polishing the writing, reading sentence after sentence over and over to get everything right, reliving a lot of emotionally tough moments. 

A novel has many challenges, but the characters I created were at a distance because they’re not real. For the novel I had to create a story with a beginning, middle and end, with a narrative arc and with characters who I had created from my imagination and had to create personalities for each that I kept consistent throughout the manuscript. Each is tough in their own way.

WOW: What is one thing you hope people will remember after reading Dancing Between the Raindrops?

Lisa: I hope that readers will remember that they are not alone in their grief, whether it is about a loved one, friend, or pet. Most of us have experienced grief or will experience it in the future. Our responses and reactions to it are our own. Our responses are unique and we should embrace our memories, embrace our grief the way we need to.

WOW: I think that’s a message that will benefit us all. What are you working on now?

Lisa: I’m working on historical fiction. The setting for the novel is Boston, Massachusetts in the mid-1800s. I’m enjoying developing the characters and creating the plot.

WOW: You are a writing chameleon! We never know what we’ll get from you next. I love history and I love Boston so this book sounds like a natural for me.

Dancing Between the Raindrops by Lisa Braxton Blog and Podcast Tour

--- Blog Tour Calendar

April 29th @ The Muffin
Join us at WOW as we celebrate the launch of Lisa Braxton’s memoir Dancing Between the Raindrops. Read an interview with the author and enter for a chance to win a copy of the book.

May 1st @ Beverley Baird
Lisa Braxton, author of the memoir Dancing Between the Raindrops, shares the experience of being an adult orphan.

May 3rd @ A Storybook World
Start the month with a touching memoir. Read more about Lisa Braxton's Dancing Between the Raindrops.

May 3rd @ Beverley Baird
Bev reviews Dancing Between the Raindrops, a memoir by Lisa Braxton.

May 5th @ Choices
How important is it to be part of a writing group? Dancing Between the Raindrops author Lisa Braxton gives her opinion on writing groups.

May 6th @ Anthony Avina
Stop by for a guest post about breast cancer with Lisa Braxton, author of the memoir Dancing Between the Raindrops.

May 8th @ The Shaggy Shepherd
How to answer the question "Do You Have Kids?" with guest post Lisa Braxton, author of the memoir Dancing Between the Raindrops.

May 9th @ Boys' Mom Reads!
Find out how a Boys' Mom feels about the memoir Dancing Between the Raindrops with today's review.

May 13th @ Word Magic
Stop by for a guest post about growing up in the family business by Lisa Braxton, author of the memoir Dancing Between the Raindrops.

May 14th @ What Is That Book About
Looking for a new book for your TBR pile? Stop by for a spotlight on Lisa Braxton's memoir Dancing Between the Raindrops.

May 15th @ From the TBR Pile
Dancing Between the Raindrops author Lisa Braxton will be visiting with a guest post today on lessons learn while getting her MFA.

May 16th @ Fancy That!
Lisa Braxton, author of Dancing Between the Raindrops, is at Fancy That today writing about grieving the death of elderly parents.

May 23rd at Words by Webb
Read a review of Lisa Braxton's Dancing Between the Raindrops today.

May 24th @ World of My Imagination
Enjoy Nicole's review of Dancing Between the Raindrops, a memoir by Lisa Braxton.

--Podcast Tour

Mission Unstoppable
Join Lisa at Mission Unstoppable as she talks about family, health crises and writing a memoir.

Joy Found Here
Lisa talks about her life and memoir Dancing Between the Raindrops at Joy Found Here

The Donna Seebo Show
Don't miss Lisa's upcoming visit in May on The Donna Seebo Show.

Book Lover's Companion
Stop by for Lisa's podcast appearance on Book Lover's Companion on August 23.

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

Enter to win a copy of Dancing Between the Raindrops by Lisa Braxton. Fill out the Rafflecopter form for a chance to win. The giveaway ends May 12th at 11:59 pm CT. We will choose a winner the next day and announce in the widget and also follow up via email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Interview with Carolyn Campbell, First Place Winner of Q2 2024 WOW! Creative Nonfiction Contest

Sunday, April 28, 2024
Carolyn Campbell is a journalist, photographer, nonfiction writer, and award-winning multimedia artist whose work has been featured in galleries, national publications, and statewide initiatives. After living in some of America’s most remote regions for the last six years, her upcoming debut book, Life at the Edge of the World, explores the grit and grace of rural towns struggling to survive. When she’s not in Oregon, Carolyn is following a story in her tiny home on wheels named Missy May.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on winning first place in our Q2 2024 Creative Nonfiction essay competition! What prompted you to enter the contest?

Carolyn: Last year I submitted a piece to the WOW contest and added the option to get feedback. I didn’t make it through the first round. It didn’t matter. The feedback was so spot on I felt like I had won. It was the clearest, most direct and supportive critique I’d ever received. This year, I entered for the critique. So, thanks for offering this much appreciated service!

WOW:  Glad that you had such a great experience with our critique add on! “Blinking Lessons” is a powerful essay and the list format worked so well here. What inspired you to write this particular piece?

Carolyn: Last fall I was taking a fractured narrative writing class with a 300-word limit. The form forced me to write directly into action. The first words that tumbled out of my pen were, When your dad asks you to come back east because your mother has lost her mind in ways it can no longer be found, don’t blink. Pack. Fly. Drive. The discordant trauma of my family lay there, bare on the page. As I wrote more, I focused on a staccato rhythm and rhyme to link the fragments that for years hadn’t made sense. Using a ‘lesson guide’ format provided a structure for quickly setting the scene to reveal my father’s growing cancer and my mother’s descent into Alzheimer. By starting with simple instructions that felt safe, the form allowed me to drop the reader into split-second vignettes that captured ruptured, explosive elements of my family’s trauma. The action of blinking became the perfect metaphor to bring the reader from the past to the present through graphic fast snippets of confusion, memory, forgiveness, and reclamation.

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

Carolyn: This is such a great question. I think we all enter this arena each in our own way. For me, I have to be willing to write the hard parts and own my truth. Because it can feel frightening to be so vulnerable and exposed, I think it’s crucial we honor our individual process. This piece took me a few years before I could step back enough and allow myself to feel the story, but not get consumed by emotions or a sense of shame.

Once I find the thread of a story, I think about the rhythm of the sentences and the pulse of the words. What should be sharp? What calls to be languid? Especially in a ‘fractured’ format, cadence and form give me a structure to help contain the piece.

One last thing, for me to feel safe putting it out into the world, I have a support system of writers, teachers and coaches who I trusted will give me emotional support and structural feedback.

WOW:  Tell us about your upcoming book, Life at the Edge of the World. Anything you can share about the writing process, or how the journey of writing this book went for you?

Carolyn: Life at the Edge of the World (my working title) has been in the making for seven years. In 2017 I started a two-month civics project with urban high school journalism students in Portland, Oregon. I called the project Looking For America. Students could send me anywhere they wanted me across the nation to interview people about issues they thought relevant to our current social crisis. I would send them videos and they would write stories about the women and their own reaction to the videos.

When an all-girls school sent me to Mississippi to find out what it was like to be a woman living in a state that had never (at that point) had a woman in a high level of office, my world shifted. Prior to this journey, I knew little about rural America. I was raised suburban. In my adult life I live an inner city life. All I knew about rural were the stop-n-go moments getting gas in small towns on the way to backpacking destinations.

Diving into the underbelly of our nation, this sojourn turned increasingly personal. Within days I found myself facing my own reckoning with cultural bias and unexpected connections with my own rural roots. Two months turned to six, then nine. By year three I’d sold my house, left my city life, and taken on the challenge to live on the income of a rural woman for a year. This life is NOT for the faint of heart.

Raw, candid, inspiring, self-effacing and at times heart wrenching, Life at the Edge is a reckoning with my own ancestral past and the crisis of the class, culture and race wars today.

With each phase of this sojourn, I’d explore different writing modalities in order to deepen my understanding of the issues, tease out my own truths, and engage a larger audience. Whether I was journaling, blogging, crafting digital stories, creating podcasts, or writing articles, my goal was to have intimate conversations about the social inequities, economic insecurities, and health disparities that threaten families and communities. I am now in the process of shaping those stories into a collection of essays, prose poems, and conversations that chronicle the grace, grit, and perseverance of women who live at the edge of hope and desperation.

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

Carolyn: One of the challenges I’ve had is finding teachers/coaches/editors who really get what I’m trying to write about. If you are writing outside the lines of immediately accessible storylines and finding yourself stuck, I’d recommend the following:

1) Explore multiple literary genres as well as multimedia and spoken word. Experiment. Stumble. Play. Expose yourself. Let your voice stammer and dance. By trying out different forms you give your true voice an opportunity to find its singular harmony … and discordance. For me, it’s this juxtaposition that makes for a compelling story.

2) Be picky about who you work with. There is a song inside you that longs to be sung. Work with those who push you to dig deep and craft stories in a voice that is unique to you.


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Are Your Writer Senses Tingling?

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Recently, the working world has been debating the pros and cons of remote work vs. office work, especially the blurred line between work time and personal time. I agree that workers shouldn’t be required to be available to their clients/supervisors 24/7. People need to have a portion of each day when they aren't working.

Things are different when you’re a writer. As a writer, I’ve come to accept that my writer senses (much like Spider-Man’s spidey senses) are tingling all the time – whether I’m at work or not. While spidey senses are looking for crimes, writer senses are looking for ideas. Some of my best ideas came to me, not during my time in my office, but when I was “off duty”. As writers, I think every experience of our life should include a faint whisper, ”Could this be useful to the writer in me ?” So, for writers, personal and work life often overlap.

I looked over the past few months of writing to find out what in my personal life led to ideas for articles, essays, short fiction and more came from and here’s what I came up with:
  • Gift of chocolate covered pretzels from my in-laws (Thanks, Lisa & Tom!) 
  • Planning a baby shower 
  • Facebook post about The Quiet Man 
  • Dusting my living room 
  • Buying tea bags 
  • Making pierogies 
  • Visit to Longwood Gardens 
  • Local newspaper article about the PA Chamber of Commerce 
  • Email from the PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs 
  • Billboard in my daughter’s town

From this weird combination I sold five magazine articles, landed one part-time position with a magazine, wrote one spec article and three essays and sent four queries (one refused and three awaiting replies).

Take full advantage of your writer senses by always being able to jot down a thought, whether it be a notepad, cellphone or even a scrap of paper. It could be an unusual place or person you want research further, a funny thing someone said or even how one thing reminds you of another. For me the Quiet Man led to an essay exploring relationships between fathers and daughters. Capture these fleeting thoughts as soon as they pop into your brain. You think you’ll remember that fabulous idea that popped into your head as you were running the kids to baseball practice but trust me, you won’t.

Sometimes an interesting experience immediately transforms into an idea for a writing project. Other times it just remains an interesting experience. That’s why I also periodically make lists of interesting things from my day with no writing ideas attached to them. If you take time to mull over those lists, you may find a way to use them in your writing. Here’s my list from yesterday:
  • Diabetic pumps
  • Math phobia
  • Warming vests for hunters
  • Seniors reluctance to drive 
  • Sharing baby photos on social media
  • Aging poll workers
  • Politicizing of colors red/blue
  • Relativity of “old” – Vans sneakers
  • Red tape preventing common sense solutions
  • Saying thank you to volunteers

They may not make much sense to you but I can already see the vague outlines of a few writing ideas I’d like to explore.

I also invite others to join my hunt for ideas. I tell friends and strangers alike to let me know about any interesting people, places or events they know about because I’m a writer always looking for ideas. Often that will lead to an immediate, “You should talk to…” Other times, months later someone will contact me with a thought or an event they think would interest me. 

Where’s the most unusual place you’ve found an idea that was transformed into a writing project?

Jodi M. Webb writes from her home in the Pennsylvania mountains. After a decade hiatus from writing, she is back with bylines in Tea Journey, Mental Floss and a WIP about her plant obsession. She's also a blog tour manager for WOW-Women on Writing. Get to know her @jodiwebbwrites , Facebook and blogging at Words by Webb.
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Interview With Dr. Angela Yarber, Creator of the Course Publishing for the Global Good (and Giveaway!)

Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Publishing for the Global Good Course by Dr. Angela Yarber

I'm excited to interview Dr. Angela Yarber, founder and Executive Director of Tehom Center Publishing and creator of the online course Publishing for the Global Good. This course is perfect for you if you are interested in writing and publishing a book that makes a difference in the world. It will teach you the Why, What, Who, How, When, and Where of writing your book and help you formulate a book proposal ready for any publisher. Learners who complete the course have an opportunity to pitch a book directly to Tehom Center Publishing, a traditional publisher, and have a chance to finish the course with a publishing contract.

Dr. Angela Yarber
Rev. Dr. Angela Yarber is the award-winning author of 8 books and the founder of Tehom Center Publishing, an imprint publishing feminist and queer authors, with a commitment to elevate BIPOC writers. An academic, author, activist, and artist, she holds a Ph.D. in Art and Religion and is a highly sought public speaker. Through Tehom Center Publishing, she publishes feminist and queer authors at absolutely no cost to writers, in addition to offering book coaching programs empowering authors in book writing, book marketing, and authorpreneurship. Her work has been featured in Forbes, NPR, HuffPo, Ms. Magazine, the television show Tiny House Nation, and more. Currently in St. Petersburg, FL, she lives and travels the world with her wife and two children doing book tours, art shows, speaking engagements, and leading retreats as a comadre en la lucha.

Dr. Angela Yarber is also offering WOW writers a 10% discount code for the course, and a chance to win a free course below!

---- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: I love your course already from the title alone! Tell us about the course and what authors can expect.

Well, I founded Tehom Center Publishing as an imprint to publish feminist and queer authors, with a commitment to elevate BIPOC writers. In short, the global good is our goal and this goal manifests in elevating authors traditionally excluded and overlooked in the publishing industry. Along the way, I also began offering book coaching aimed at empowering such authors in book writing, book marketing, and authorpreneurship in order to offer a wholistic approach to writing and publishing. After doing this for a year, I discovered that a lot of writers have great book ideas, but struggle to determine the why, what, who, how, when, and where behind writing and publishing.

With on-demand, self-paced videos, assignments, exercises, and a supportive community focused on making a difference in the world, the course coaches writers through these questions:

  • Why do you want to publish?
  • What do you want to write about?
  • Who are you to write this book, who else has written about this topic, and who is your audience?
  • How are you going to write this book?
  • When are you going to write this book?
  • And where are you going to publish this book?

Knowing concrete answers to these questions is essential to succeeding in publishing a book for the global good.

WOW: I love how thorough you are in helping people through this course. I am so impressed that this course actually gives people a chance to win a publishing contract! Can you tell me more about Tehom Center Publishing?

Angela: TCP’s goal is to publish feminist and queer authors, with a particular commitment to elevate BIPOC writers. Since LGBTQ+ authors only represent 16% of published authors, and BIPOC writers only 11%, it’s imperative to us to highlight these strategically ignored communities.

As an author myself, I know how incredibly difficult it is to secure a publishing contract, particularly when you come from a historically marginalized community. I’m hoping that the possibility of publishing with TCP will offer learners an encouraging incentive to get their writing out into the world.

WOW: That's so cool! Who is this course right for?

Angela: Anyone who wants their writing to make the world a better place!

If you’re an activist working for social change, a writer dreaming of a better world, this is the course for you.

While I believe it’s particularly poignant for first-time authors, I’m also confident that the exercises and content can inspire even seasoned authors to view their writing anew, offering a fresh, innovative, and subversive approach to publishing in the current political landscape.

WOW: I think that's so tremendously helpful You ask the learners the Why, What, Who, How, When, and Where of writing a book. Why is knowing the answers to those questions so important?

Angela: Since I briefly responded to this in the opening question, I’ll focus specifically on the importance of knowing your WHY. I always coach authors through articulating two different iterations of the WHY behind writing a book. The first is practical and the second is prophetic.

The practical WHY deals with those aspects of publishing that a lot of activist writers don’t really like to talk about. Reasons like becoming famous, getting rich, checking an item off a bucket list, building a brand or business, or raising a middle finger to that 8th grade English teacher who said your writing would never amount to anything are reasons that don’t exactly align with “writing for the global good.” But it’s important for authors to be honest about the practical reasons why they want to publish. There’s nothing wrong with claiming any of those practical reasons, but there is something wrong with not being honest with yourself about those reasons. Plus, if you know why you’re doing it, it’s easier to set your expectations accordingly.

The second and most important WHY is the prophetic WHY. And this reason is all about making a difference in the world. It’s about the calling and vocation of writing and publishing: to change the world. I believe it’s vital for an author to know the deep, abiding, prophetic WHY behind their writing. Are you writing to educate about climate change? Inspire LGBTQ+ inclusion? Honor your enslaved ancestors? Getting to the heart of WHY you’re writing is what will keep you going when writing and publishing gets hard. When you get your 20th rejection letter from a literary agent and want to throw in the towel, your WHY keeps you going. When you’re editing ARCs and find a comma splice in the third iteration of printing, your WHY inspires you not to give up.

WOW: You give people so much to think about. I love that you offer coaching and other help to authors. You even offer no-cost publishing! Can you tell me what drives you to help others in this way?

Angela: Absolutely. After having eight books published with four different publishers, I experienced first hand the ways most publishing companies struggle to meet the needs of queer, feminist, and BIPOC writers. Typically, they don’t understand the nuances of marketing our work.

Then I witnessed two brilliant writer friends spend $40,000 on a hybrid publishing company that promised riches and delivered little. These colleagues are smart, savvy, talented queer women who were taken advantage of by a predatory publishing company.

Inspired by queer, chicana, feminist writer, Gloria Anzaldúa, I wanted “The world I create in my writing compensates for what the real world does not give me.”

The “real world” has given us, at worst, many predatory publishing companies who take advantage of marginalized writers, and at best, publishers who just don’t understand the nuances of marketing us. I wanted to create something better and more equitable that compensates for what the real world does not give us.

So, Tehom Center Publishing charges authors absolutely no fees to publish. And our courses and coaching programs are equitable, just, and fair in pricing. We believe that marginalized authors writing for the global good should be able to live thriving, financially sustainable lives. That’s why we offer authorpreneur coaching, 20% author royalties (which are double industry standard), and equitable contracts.

WOW: I completely agree about the predatory publishing out there. What you have offered to authors is a game changer! This is a course offered through The School of Global Citizenry. Can you tell me about that program and why you decided to offer your course through them?

Angela: The School of Global Citizenry is run by two queer women committed to the global good. I offer a couple other courses with them focused on Queer Spirituality and The Feminine Divine in Global Perspectives. Since their focus is on creating global citizens who imagine and create a more just and beautiful world, offering the course with them aligns with Tehom Center Publishing’s values.

WOW: What a great partnership! At what point in their writing should someone take this course?

Angela: That’s a great question. While it could work at any time, I think the course would be most valuable at two distinct phases of writing. The first is the general idea phase. When a writer is trying to find clarity regarding how to move forward with a book, what exactly to write about, and where they might envision publishing, this course would be tremendously helpful.

Equally valuable is taking the course when an author has done some solid book writing. While the author may have a solid grasp on the WHAT question—what the book is about—learning about the why, who, how, when, and where really provides inspiration and clarity during the writing process, along with a roadmap for how to move forward.

Personally, I know I’m always more eager to write when I know why I’m writing and who is going to publish my work!

WOW: You have been such a fascinating person to interview. I hope everyone takes your course! 

Writers, Check out Dr. Angela Yarber's course if you'd like to find out more about Publishing for the Global Good.

Publishing for the Global Good: 10% Discount Code

Dr. Angela Yarber is giving WOW writers a special discount! Go to and use code WoW2024 to receive 10% off her course, Publishing for the Greater Good: Writing a Book that Makes a Difference in the World.

Win a Free Book Proposal Course with Dr. Angela Yarber

Giveaway: Publishing for the Greater Good Course

Enter the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win Dr. Angela Yarber's course, Publishing for the Greater Good: Writing a Book that Makes a Difference in the World ($297 value). The giveaway ends May 7th at 11:59 PM CT. We will draw one winner randomly the next day and announce in the Rafflecopter form as well as follow up via email. Good luck!

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Interview with Yolanda Renée: Fall 2023 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Yolanda’s Bio:
Yolanda Renée, author of the Detective Quaid Mystery Series, discovered her love of mysteries after earning her first library card. Now, she writes the kind of books she wants to read, including poetry, but flash fiction is an addiction she hopes has no cure. Renée has published short stories in two anthologies – Parallels: Felix Was Here and Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime. Moving from corporate accounting to give her imagination full reign, she now watches the waves break while penning her first noir and finishing book seven of the Detective Quaid Series. Read more of her work at Defending the Pen or connect with her on Facebook or X @YolandaRenee

If you haven't done so already, check out Yolanda's award-winning story "Conundrum" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Fall 2023 Flash Fiction Contest! What excited you most about writing this story? 

Yolanda: I wanted to explore friendship and our expectations of how our lives will play out. 

WOW: What did you learn about yourself or your writing while crafting this piece? 

Yolanda: I worked hard to stick to the title, “Conundrum.” I could see myself in this piece and lived something similar. But many who’ve read the story wanted a more descriptive ending like the drink in the face. I agree I could have gone a step further. But instead of the drink in the face, or a whispered response such as, “Ted wanted full custody. I say, why not. The boys obviously love you.” I can attest to the fact that the whispered response wouldn’t have ended any better than the drink in the face. What I’ve learned is that there is no easy answer in life or fiction. 

WOW: I agree. Your ending is more understated yet much more complex than a drink in the face. Please tell us more about your love for mystery stories and mystery writing! What interests you most about the genre? Are you writing any mystery stories right now? 

Yolanda: I grew up fascinated with mysteries since reading Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton via my first library card in the fourth grade. And then reading the mystery writers of the past two centuries. I loved learning that Edgar Allan Poe is considered the founder of detective fiction. He’s a particular favorite of mine since he also wrote poetry, horror, and mystery, and like me, combines all three. I love crafting a good tale and especially keeping my readers clueless. It’s as much fun as solving the plots of other mystery crafters. My interest is always the motivation behind the crime. The antagonist and their background are as important in my stories as the protagonists. I’m currently working on a noir and finishing the 7th book in my Detective Quaid Mystery Series set in Alaska. 

WOW: Your description makes the genre sound so exciting, and I can see why you’re drawn to it. Enjoy the process of writing the 7th book in your mystery series! What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it? 

Yolanda: I enjoy reading stories based on history or biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs. I’m currently reading Myrna Loy’s memoir Being and Becoming. I love black and white movies, and she’s a favorite, along with William Powell from The Thin Man Movies. I also read and review scripts for Zoodiker, and I’m a developmental editor for some of my favorite authors. 

WOW: If you could give your younger self one piece of writing advice, what would it be and why? 

Yolanda: I wish I’d heard this quote when younger: “Believe in yourself, and your dreams will dance towards you!” Low self-confidence has always haunted me. Believing I could accomplish anything was more a test of will than a true belief in self. I’m glad to say I’ve turned that around, although stubbornness will forever be part of who I am. 

WOW: I like that image of dreams dancing towards you. That’s a mantra to live by! Anything else you’d like to add? 

Yolanda: WOW is an asset to writers, and I’m super proud to have had a story place in the top ten. Thank you. 

WOW: Thank you for sharing your story and your inspiring responses with us. 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. Connect on Twitter @greenmachine459.
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Finding Fran by Nancy Christie: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, April 22, 2024
Finding Fran by Nancy Christie

We're back again with another blog tour! This time it's with author Nancy Christie and her novel, Finding Fran. This book is ideal for readers of all ages, but particularly people who want to read stories about women their age and older who are experiencing the challenges of midlife, and ultimately find their moxie and pursue their dreams. 

Join us as we celebrate the launch of her blog tour by interviewing this talented author and giving you a chance to win a copy of her book. 

But first, here's more about Finding Fran:

Once a best-selling romance novelist, 55-year-old Fran Carter is now dealing with a slow but steady drop in book sales and a major case of writer’s block, complicated by the knowledge that her lover, a professional photographer, has been on the wrong side of the camera (so to speak) with his models. (So much for her author brand, built on the premise that women in their fifties and beyond can still find love and happiness.) Her solution is to spend a week in isolation at a northern California bed-and-breakfast. There she hopes to resolve her professional and personal conflicts, and ultimately create a new and better future for herself by writing a new “story” for the Fran she wants to be!

ISBN-13: 979-8350942248
Print Length: 302 pages

Purchase a copy of Finding Fran on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and You can also add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Praise About Finding Fran

“I loved the premise of the romance writer floundering in a relationship herself and then finding her way. And I always enjoy reading about the lives of writers, even fictional ones. As a writer myself—and as a woman—I could so relate to Fran’s indecision, lack of confidence and self-doubt as well as be inspired by her pushing ahead despite it all.” ~ Dorothy Rosby, award-winning author and humor writer

“Nancy Christie is an author who has made a career of writing about women’s lives, and as a women’s fiction reader, I’m glad to have discovered her work. Christie’s strength is in her ability to thoroughly insert you into the life of her heroine, Fran. In Finding Fran, you learn about Fran’s floundering writing career and her relationship troubles. Fran is relatable, and I found myself rooting for her to pursue and earn the life she deserves.” ~ Monic Ductan, award-winning author

“With her Midlife Moxie series, author Nancy Christie has tapped into a long-overlooked, yet vital and thriving, world of women in mid-life. Sadly, so many books dealing in romance and achieving life goals only revolve around the younger woman, but Christie has wisely realized that ‘women of a certain age’—like her, like you, like me—have been dealing with heartbreak, pursuing true love, and achieving their wildest dreams from time immemorial. [In] Finding Fran, Christie delves into the shock and heartache of learning a so-called life partner has committed the ultimate betrayal that feels like a death, but leads to beauty, fulfillment, and self-awareness. Christie’s characters are complete studies of humans with all of their messy, imperfect vulnerabilities, who realize they are ultimately in control of their destinies—they just needed a little push.” ~ Jennifer Bowers Bahney, award-winning journalist and author

About the Author, Nancy Christie

Nancy Christie

Nancy Christie is the award-winning author of eight books—two novels: Reinventing Rita and Finding Fran; three short story collections: Mistletoe Magic and Other Holiday Tales, Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories and Peripheral Visions and Other Stories; two books for writers: Rut-Busting Book for Authors and Rut-Busting Book for Writers; and the inspirational book, The Gifts Of Change. Her short stories and essays have appeared in print and online publications, with several earning contest placement. The host of the Living the Writing Life podcast and the founder of the annual “Midlife Moxie” Day and “Celebrate Short Fiction” Day, Christie teaches writing workshops at conferences, libraries, and schools. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), the Florida Writers Association (FWA) and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA).

You can find her online:

-- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First off, congratulations on your book, Finding Fran! What inspired you to write this book?

Nancy: Finding Fran has an interesting history. First of all, while it’s my second published novel, it’s actually the first one I had written. I had never planned on writing a novel—I was a confirmed short story writer. And when I began writing it, that’s what I thought it would be. But then it kept growing and by the end of 90 days, writing for 30 minutes a day every day without fail—I had a very rough draft of a 60,000-word story.

As for the topic, it was just one of those ideas that came out of nowhere. I don’t write romance novels—those bodice-rippers, as some people call them—because I just can’t relate to the women who are the main characters in those stories. Maybe it’s because I was a tomboy as a child, maybe because I have a very strong independent streak. But I knew how popular they were and how well they sell. So I thought it would be fun to write a story about a character who does write them yet is struggling with her own “Happily Ever After” story that isn’t so happy. One reviewer said it’s an “un-romance” story and I think that’s a great description!

And by making her in her mid-fifties, Finding Fran was a perfect fit for my Midlife Moxie Novel Series.

WOW: As a devoted short story writer myself, I love hearing that this novel began as a short! I have to say - I love your theme of writing books about women thriving mid-life. I think that's my favorite aspect of this book. What made you want to write about this type of character?

Nancy: You know that old saying: write what you know? Being in the midlife stage myself—well, on the far side of midlife!—I know a bit about the challenges of navigating through those decades.

Also, I am more than a little tired of how women of “a certain age” (i.e., middle age) have been portrayed on shows and advertisements. It seems like once a woman crossed into Menopause Land, she is viewed as someone who suffers from incontinence or incompetence—sometimes both! A woman who, once she hits 50, has nowhere to go and nothing to look forward to, and that just isn’t the case.

Many women at midlife are thriving, taking on new challenges and looking for new opportunities to find out who they can be and what they can accomplish. Midlife doesn’t have to be the end of life—it can be the beginning of a new life if you find your moxie and go after your dream. Life is full of possibilities no matter what age you are.

My goal is to write stories that show that the loss of a career, whether through age discrimination or retirement, doesn’t mean that all you have to look forward to are years spent staring at the same four walls while your brain cells atrophy. Or that the end of a relationship, whether through death or divorce, doesn’t mean a future spent all by yourself with no one to talk to but the cat. My novels are about women at midlife (50s and older) who are reinventing themselves, either by choice or necessity.

Fran is off on adventure that seems like a dream to me. 

"Many women at midlife are thriving, taking on new challenges and looking for new opportunities to find out who they can be and what they can accomplish. Midlife doesn’t have to be the end of life—it can be the beginning of a new life if you find your moxie and go after your dream." 

WOW: It does to me too! You did such a good job sweeping the reader in and making both Fran and the setting seem real. How did you manage to do that so well?

Nancy: While I had written a draft of Finding Fran about a romance novelist who lived near San Francisco, California, I needed the details to make it accurate. I traveled there and spent a week in Half Moon Bay, taking tons of pictures, talking to locals and just in general, getting a feel for the place.

Then last year, Mary Bisbee-Beek read through the manuscript and from her perspective living in that general area—northern CA—gave me some recommendations regarding locations that really improved the story. That being said, I have learned my lesson and unless I have a major travel budget, will stick to setting my fiction in places that I can visit frequently as I am writing!

WOW: I grew up in the Bay Area of California and adore that area. What characterization building tips can you share with our readers?

Nancy: Really think about who the character is: her struggles, her fears, weaknesses and strengths, her motivations and goals. Many writers build a character bio ahead of time, detailing as much information as they can about the character, from their past life to the present. I’m not one of those, sadly. It would probably make my writing time more efficient! But what I do is to keep track of details that come into the story organically, using a spreadsheet and endnotes within the document. That being said, the novel I’m working on now, Moving Maggie, has been a real challenge because I struggled to get a solid grasp of the character. I had to keep asking myself who she was before the inciting events, how those changed her perception of herself, and who and what helped her get back to the “Maggie with moxie” person she once was, only in a more balanced form. I’m finally there, and now I am engaged in doing major revisions to the novel, to make sure that everything is in line with that progression of events.

WOW: I can't wait to read it. You are an incredibly prolific and successful writer. How do you maintain the momentum to publish and release so many books?

Nancy: Well, to be honest, if we’re looking at my publishing career, I don’t really think of myself as all that prolific. My first book came out in 2004 when I was 50, and my next one in 2014—10 years later! I realized at that point that if I maintained that kind of schedule, I didn’t have all that many decades left for the books I wanted to write! This year, with the release of Finding Fran, I’m up to eight books, and two more will be released next year bringing me to a total of 10.

My goal—and I am a very goal-oriented person—is to release one new Midlife Moxie novel a year. In addition to the one I am working on for 2025, I have several more ideas for future novels.

But I am a prolific writer, especially when it comes to fiction. While I’ve had short stories published—both in collections and as individual stories in magazines—I have many, many, many more that are in various stages of completion sitting on my computer or, in some cases, in hard copy in my file drawer. I just can’t help myself. I hear a line of dialogue in my head and I’m off, making up a story!

WOW: I'm the same way! I have collections of untyped stories that need to see the light of day. I loved seeing that you teach writing workshops. How does teaching help your own writing?

Nancy: I learn a lot from those in my classes as well as from the members of my writing group, the Monday Night Writers. And not just about writing, but also about the challenges that come with being a writer. When I hold my writing workshops, I make them very interactive. They are designed to help attendees learn how to tap into their creativity on the fly, so to speak, and overcome the notion that you have to have everything in place and ready to go to be creative: the right music, the right candle, the right setting. But that’s not the case. While any of those can help, they are not required. What is required is the ability to shut off the outside world and go into the space where your characters or your ideas are waiting. Many times when I hold these workshops, I will do the exercises along with the class, and then share what I come up with. And sometimes it ends up being a piece I can develop into a full story!

WOW: That's amazing. What type of problems do you commonly see in student writing?

Nancy: Sometimes it’s a lack of “think-through”—thinking through the story after it’s drafted to see if what the characters do makes sense and follows the theme. Other times, it’s just a lack of knowledge about the basic rules about grammar, spelling and punctuation. It matters—it really does. But I think the main issue is that students are often afraid to get solid feedback. They don’t want to hear anything negative about their work. But that’s how we learn to improve. I started my writing career working for a small local newspaper and I had an editor who would mercilessly point out everything I did wrong. But he also told me what I did right. My goal was to have less of the first and more of the second, and by paying attention to what he said were my errors, I got better. And I still rely on editors and beta readers for input on my work. As writers, we should always try to get better, write better.

WOW: That's a wonderful balance. You manage to be all over on social media! I'm so impressed. How do you handle it all?

Nancy: I have a schedule that I do my best to follow. But it’s not easy, especially because I am a full-time copywriter besides writing and marketing my books. I try to learn all I can from other writers, even though often I feel like I am behind. And I’m not very good at interacting on social media—the “social” part. I don’t have that much time to do it, even though I wish I did. I do what I can, and when I have extra time, try to do more.

WOW: That's fair. What advice do you have about being on social media as an author?

Nancy: Always remember that being an author is a profession, and how you present yourself reflects on you as a professional. Personally, I’m very cautious about posting anything negative or controversial. My views about politics, religion, etc., are private. What I post on social media is about my books, books by and interviews with other writers, and other aspects of the writing life. But then, that is my choice. Other authors are more outspoken and I admire them for it. It’s just not me.

WOW: That's a great approach. And you run a podcast too. How do you handle everything that's on your plate?

Nancy: Again, it all comes back to having a schedule and being disciplined. I use my Outlook calendar and a paper-based datebook, and plan things out as far in advance as I can. I learned that when I was working two jobs and had young kids. There’s always going to be something unexpected that occurs so take advantage of every minute and get stuff “in the can,” so to speak, so you aren’t scrambling.

WOW: You are so organized. I love it! What advice do you have for authors who want to reach their readers?

Nancy: I’d love to give you a surefire way to find your readers and connect with them but that is something I struggle with myself. One thing I know about me is that I am better in person than on social media when it comes to connecting with people. I hold actual conversations with people at my book events, talking to them about their lives and their struggles. Also, from a purely practical, marketing side, I always carry bookmarks with me to hand out whenever it seems appropriate and make sure everyone knows that I’m an author. And I have a newsletter I send out and a website I update monthly.

WOW: That's a great idea! What advice do you have for writers who want to create characters that reflect where they are at in their own life? Or maybe characters that aren't represented too well?

Nancy: Don’t engage in too much navel-gazing—writing solely from the perspective of your own life and your own experiences. If you do that, every character will sound like you. Your life can serve as a springboard but make sure the characters are fully formed and distinct from who you are. If you want to write about characters who aren’t well represented, do your homework and make sure you understand them first. Don’t do it just because the market is hot for certain types of people in terms of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or whatever. You’ll end up having stock characters or stereotypes that don’t ring true.

WOW: Excellent point! What is your writing routine like?

Nancy: I write every day. Sometimes it’s my own work—novels or short stories—and sometimes it’s a mix of client work and my work. But every day I write. I start by 5 or 6 in the morning, and, depending on what is happening and how productive I am, may go until after dinner. But every day I write. (I know I said that already, but it bears repeating! That’s how I keep my writing engine running smoothly!)

WOW: How amazing that is. What are you working on now that you can tell us about?

Nancy: Moving Maggie, the next in my Midlife Moxie novel series. And I’m also playing with a short story idea that is too unformed to even talk about! And planning my launch for Finding Fran, which includes a road trip to North Carolina. All my events are listed on my website at so people can find me. If there’s anyone around those areas when I’m there, drop by and say hi!

WOW: That's so exciting! I can't wait to see what you come out with next. Thank you for joining us!

Finding Fran by Nancy Christie WOW Blog Tour

--- Blog Tour Calendar

April 22nd @ The Muffin
Join us as we celebrate the launch of Finding Fran by Nancy Christie. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of her book.

April 25th @ The Faerie Review
Visit Lily's blog for a spotlight of Finding Fran by Nancy Christie. 

April 26th @ StoreyBook Reviews
Visit Leslie's blog for her spotlight of an excerpt in Finding Fran by Nancy Christie. 

April 26th @ Bookplaces
Visit Kay's blog for her review of Finding Fran by Nancy Christie. She'll also be interviewing the author as well! 

April 29th @ Just Katherine
Join Katherine to check out her review of Finding Fran by Nancy Christie.

May 1st @ Affinito Lit
Join Stephanie for a feature of Finding Fran and a chance to win an eBook.

May 4th @ A Wonderful World of Books
Visit Joy's blog for her spotlight of Finding Fran by Nancy Christie.

May 5th @ Bring on Lemons
Join Crystal for a review of Finding Fran by Nancy Christie.

May 7th @ A Storybook World
Visit Deirdra's blog for her spotlight of Finding Fran by Nancy Christie.

May 9th @ Knotty Needle
Join Judy's blog for a review of Finding Fran by Nancy Christie.

May 10th @ Beverley A. Baird
Visit Beverley's blog for her review of Finding Fran by Nancy Christie.

May 15th @ Writer Advice
B. Lynn Goodwin will be interviewing Nancy Christie about her book Finding Fran. 

May 17th @ Sarandipity's Designs
Join Sara for her interview with author Nancy Christie. You'll also have the chance to win a copy of the eBook.

May 20th @ World of My Imagination
Join Nicole for her review of Finding Fran by Nancy Christie.

May 21st @ Sara Trimble's blog
Visit Sara's blog for her review of Finding Fran by Nancy Christie.

May 22nd @ Create Write Now
Mari L. McCarthy will be spotlighting Finding Fran by Nancy Christie.

May 24th @ Word Magic
Visit Fiona's blog for a spotlight of Finding Fran by Nancy Christie.

May 26th @ Boys' Mom Reads
Visit Karen's blog for her review of Finding Fran by Nancy Christie.

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

Enter to win a copy of Finding Fran by Nancy Christie! Fill out the Rafflecopter form for a chance to win. The giveaway ends May 5th at 11:59 PM CT. We will randomly draw a winner and announce in the Rafflecopter widget as well as follow up via email. Good luck!

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Why Non-Poets Need to Read Poetry

Thursday, April 18, 2024
A favorite poet.

April is National Poetry Month. If you’re not a poet, you may be tempted to give this post a miss. “Ugh, she’s just going to yammer on about poetry. Yuck.” But bear with me. 

Even if you aren’t a poet, it is an excellent idea to read poetry. Here are five reasons why. 


Heaven help us, poems have depth. There is the topic that you see on the surface. “Hey, this is a poem about bluebirds. I adore bluebirds!” But there is also the underlying topic. “Wait a minute. This is a poem about memory and how it shapes the present.” 

If you’ve ever been told that your manuscript won’t stand up to multiple readings, study poetry. If you’ve ever been told that your piece was too flat, study poetry. Need to know how to incorporate multiple themes? That’s right. Study poetry. 


Poetry manages to create pieces with multiple layers and all that depth because successful poets do it while spinning wholly unique look at a topic. Want to write about the quietness of nature? Then you’ll have to do it without writing about hummingbirds, egrets, or the stillness of a pond. Why? Because Mary Oliver already did that. 

Because poetry demands a unique approach, it is a great lesson on getting beyond cliché and all that is overused. 


As you read poetry, you get to see the world in many different ways. You get to experience Mary Oliver’s perspective as well as Sherman Alexie’s. Want to know how Naomi Shihab Nye sees the world? Pick up her poetry. 

Poetry is an excellent way to experience the world through someone else’s mindset. It is a way to broaden your view. 

Every Word Counts 

In part, it is because poems are short, but poems are a literary form in which every word matters. Every word has earned its place in the poem whether it impacts the mood, the rhythm, or the pattern. 

If you are writing picture books or flash, you too need to make a case for every word you choose. You should study the type of writing you are doing, be it picture books, flash, or poetry. But it is also an excellent idea to study all three. After all, you never know where you will find inspiration. 

Word Play 

Children’s poetry in particular involves a lot of word play. In addition to rhyme, there onomatopoeia (sound words), assonance (repeating vowels or diphthongs), alliteration (repeated consonants), and just the galloping, romping rhythm of words. 

I’m not going to say that word play makes an appearance in every sentence I write. But when I want a to pack a punch, the words come out to play. Did you know that a string of single syllable words can help create emphasis? 

I will never be a poet. No, really. It just isn’t how I’m wired.  But I can appreciate the poetry of others as well as the lessons poetry has taught me to use in my own writing. 

So, tell me. What poets should I be reading? Favorite poems? Let’s share! 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of 50 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  May 6, 2024. She teaches:
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