How I Feel After One Year Of Being On Sub

Thursday, May 30, 2024

When I went on sub, I was full of hope. I convinced myself that I was one yes away from my dream - traditional publication - and it was sure to happen. I visualised my book in stores, my book launch and the most extravagant book tour. 

But manuscripts don’t always sell.  

I started this blog series after I signed with my agent in January last year. It was a whirlwind that began with excitement and the popping of champagne and ended with a case of shingles and a dose of imposter syndrome. There’s nothing like a win that makes me have doubts. 

But the best way to conquer rejection fears is by continuing to work. So that’s exactly what I did, kicking off this new chapter in my writing journey with a few extra edits and a final look at my query package. Then I went on sub and waited and waited and waited. 

Over a year has now passed and it’s time to accept that my manuscript has not been picked up. 

Confessing this truth is not easy but I think it’s important. Manuscripts often don’t sell. I just wish more writers talked about their rejected manuscripts. 

It’s not all bad though. Check out this positive feedback I received from three of my dream publishers:

  • "Loved the sound of this and there’s definitely an appetite for it in the market right now."
  • "Kelly has a nice turn of phrase and there’s also a good pace to her storytelling."
  • "It’s an interesting story. I’m sure you’ll find a good home for it." 

These positive rejections mean the world; they help me keep going and are a reminder that stories are an art form and art is subjective.

Some of the most successful authors have faced rejection: 

  • Agatha Christie’s first novel was never published. Her second novel was also repeatedly rejected before being finally published on the agreement that she change the ending. 
  • Sally Hepworth “I did finish that terrible first book. I then read a book on editing and edited it. Using my single-mindedness, I even managed to navigate the stream of rejections that followed, and the two more books I had to write before I finally managed to land a publishing deal that allowed me to become a full-time writer.” 
  • Holly Craig has now published two best-selling novels with more on the way. Her first manuscript didn’t sell and still isn’t published and I’m grateful she blogged about it. 

Good news is great, but for every author who is celebrating a win, there are hundreds more who are facing rejection.
Here are some stats from

  • Between 500,000 and 1 million books are published each year, excluding self-published books.
  • The odds of getting published stands between 1% and 2% 

Brevity Blog “In the most recent 12 months of deals at Publishers Marketplace, out of all fiction deals: 1,828 only 404 were debut authors.” 

Most novelists write several books before selling one. 

This year has been difficult, but I’m still keen to keep pursuing my writing dreams. Even though it’s hard to feel confident when I’m facing rejection, even though it’s easy to forget or downplay the fact that I have an agent while I’m yet to sign a publishing contract, and even though, sometimes, I feel like a fraud calling myself an author, I remember how much I believe in my ability because I’ve done the work, I’ve put in the time, and I am worthy. 

Picking myself up now is crucial. I’m at a fork in the road and am choosing to continue my adventure. I’m not sure what my next blog will be about but the possibilities range from querying small presses to going on submission with something new. 

Wish me luck!
Kelly Sgroi is based in Melbourne, Australia. Represented by Beyond Words Literary Agency, Kelly is looking forward to what comes next in her writing journey. She’s an enthusiastic member of the writing community and is published by WOW! Women on Writing, Dream Journal, The Endometriosis Foundation of America, Endometriosis Australia, and a few Medium publications. Visit her website at
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Many Paths to Writing Success

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Each of us has a different path.

The other night I was on the phone with my cousin. He wants to write a self-help book. He wanted to know two things. Where should he start and what credentials does he need? Given the type of book he wants to write, he has all the credentials that he needs. He’s lived it. But he doesn’t have a background in writing. 

I assured him that he could learn to write. Why? Because, like me, he’s always loved stories. 

I loved stories even before I could read. My father, also a committed reader, discovered early on that he and I were in competition for the National Geographic magazine. I poured over the photographs, taking in the exotic animals and places. I wanted to know all about the people that I saw.  

When we traveled as a family, we either went to southern Missouri or West Texas. In both locations, I would find a seat near the men and listen to their stories. Why the men? They were the ones telling stories. In West Texas, my cousin and I would listen to their stories. We’d take in the details of flood and fire and mountain rescues. As teens, our paths diverged. 

 I went to university to study anthropology and archaeology. This was my chance to dive into other worlds and I loved it. But the survey archaeology program where I worked closed soon after I graduated. I found another university job to have access to the tuition waiver it offered. By the time I earned my final degree, I knew I wanted to write.  

Why am I telling you this? Because this was my path. It looked different from the other writers I knew. As a children’s writer, I am surrounded by teachers and librarians. If these were the only paths to writing for children, I’d have made no progress. But I found my own way, writing about the horses I loved as a child and using my academic background. 

My cousin’s path has been very different from mine, but that’s okay. He’s looking at a different destination. After high school he went into the military.  He just finished college.  He’s going to have to learn to write but he’s determined and that’s a big part of the journey. Add to this that he’s got the storyteller’s gift and the desire to reach out and help others and I know he’ll be able to write an engaging book. 

Sure, it will take time. He’ll have to learn about the craft. He’ll have to decide how to shape and mold the book he wants to write. His path will be different from mine. It will be different from the paths of other self-help authors. 

What do you want to write? Where are you on your writing journey? Don’t lose the way comparing your path to that of other writers. We each have our own story to tell and we’ll each reach it via a different route. 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 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 June 3, 2024. She teaches:
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When Love Wags a Tail by Carmen Leal: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, May 27, 2024

When Love Wags a Tail by Carmen Leal

We're excited to welcome back Carmen Leal who joins us for another blog tour. This tour is of her newest collection of true stories from people whose lives have been saved by their dog. When Love Wags a Tail is perfect for anyone who has ever loved a dog. Join us as we celebrate the launch of the blog tour by interviewing Carmen Leal and giving away a copy of the book.

But first, here's more about the book:

Our four-legged friends have huge hearts. Experience the joy of this collection of true-life stories of humans and the amazing dogs who saved them. Carmen Leal never dreamed tragedy could bring positive change. Suffering a traumatic brain injury after a car wreck, the marketing pro struggled to find her center and reclaim her life. But after finally caving in and adopting a rescue dog, her world changed forever.

Flourishing on her new furry friend’s unconditional love, she turned her talents to supporting canines still facing grim futures. Working tirelessly over the course of four years, she’s helped find homes for over 6,500 dogs and collected endless tales of wonderment and triumph.

Now, she’s here to share the real-life stories of how a deep connection with these incredible animals can bring fulfillment and joy. In this heartwarming compilation, author and storyteller Carmen Leal interweaves her personal journey with those who’ve experienced renewal at the paws of the dogs they adopted. Bringing together over sixty snapshots, Leal connects both dramatic and simply sweet accounts, including her own, while advocating for help and donating a portion of each sale to a foster-to-adoption group.

When Love Wags a Tail is part emotional memoir and part treasure trove of inspirational and humorous journeys. If you like protecting loyal friends who lack a voice, feel-good adventures, and giving back, then you’ll adore Carmen Leal’s touching read.

Publisher: ‎ EABooks Publishing
ISBN-10: 196361108X
ISBN-13: 978-1963611083
Print Length: 256 pages

Purchase a copy of When Love Wags a Tail on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and You can also add it to your GoodReads reading list.

About the Author, Carmen Leal

Carmen Leal is a storyteller, Coconut's mom, and a reluctant gardener. She is the author of multiple books, articles, devotionals, and human-interest stories. Carmen relocated from Hawaii to Oshkosh, yes, there is a story behind the move, and has become an awesome dog mom. Carmen and her husband have become reluctant gardeners and, sadly, they know a crazy amount about Wisconsin weeds. She is the mother of Coconut, the best imperfectly perfect rescue dog in the world.

Carmen didn’t know enough about rescuing dogs; okay, she knew nothing, but despite her complete lack of research or knowledge, she ended up with Coconut, the rescue who was and continues to be perfect for her.

Carmen is an active member of the Oshkosh Southwest Rotary Club, part of her neighborhood association's leadership team, and is an adjunct professor for Fox Valley Technical College's award-winning E-Seed Entrepreneurship workshop. When she is not writing and speaking, Carmen reads, cooks, and is a major bargain hunter at consignment and antique shops.

A portion of every book sold is donated to Second Chance North, an area foster-to-adoption group that helps to rescue more dogs. Follow Carmen on Facebook at #rescuemoredogs.

Find Carmen online at:

Publishing company: 

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: Congratulations on When Love Wags a Tail! I love your collection of essays, and I'm so excited to see another published following I Chose You. Why did you feel led to publish another collection?

Carmen: The Wag Away Tales series was always supposed to be more than one book. From a business perspective it’s much harder to sell a standalone title. It’s so much work starting a business, setting up websites, and doing social media, that multiple books helps make all the work worthwhile. Sales from book one drive books two and three and the other way around. My goal is to donate as much money as possible to rescue groups to help rescue more dogs. More books hopefully means more sales. 

The other reason I wanted write this book is that there are so many great stories! I had many submissions for I Chose You and I had to stick them in a file and tell the dog owners I’d hopefully be able to write book two. I am happy to say I was able to use many of those submissions in this book.

WOW: I completely agree! There are so many good stories to tell about owners and their much-loved pets. How did you approach compiling this collection this time around?

Carmen: I contacted people from the last book and asked them first. When Love Wags a Tail is focused on people fifty-five and older, so many of my first authors didn’t fit into that age group. I posted a call on my Facebook rescue dog page and on my personal page. I had writer’s groups post about in their newsletters and I had a postcard at book signings and got stories from local dog owners which has been fun. 

WOW: What a clever way to find contributors! What has changed for you since the publication of your last book?

Carmen: The best change for me is that I have been able to donate money to several rescue groups. Donations from I Chose You are just about at $5,000 which is so gratifying. I have done a ton of podcasts and book signings. 

WOW: How incredible! And I love that you started your own publishing company. Why did you decide to do that?

Carmen: I have always looked at my writing as a business, so an LLC was always the goal. Since I started this venture by writing dog books, it made sense to go with a doggy themed logo and name. I plan on applying for some grants and loans that are only available to business owners. I wasn’t ready for that in 2022 when I started the company, but I decided to start out with a business. There are also a ton of business deductions to help pay less federal state income taxes and that’s always a good thing.

WOW: Those are some good benefits. What do you hope people gain by reading your story collection?

Carmen: I want people to understand that most rescue dogs aren’t in a shelter because of bad behavior. The overwhelming majority of dogs are simply good dogs in a bad situation. I also want people to know that dogs are awesome and can change our lives in the best way. The caveat to this is that being a responsible dog owner is not without costs, so everyone needs to remember that before adopting. 

Lastly, I want people to understand that they need to adopt the right dog at the right time. Every author in this book is a senior or close to it. Maybe an eighty-pound shepherd might have worked when I was forty or even fifty, but at seventy a small dog is more manageable and safer for me. Living in a senior living community might mean having to get a dog under twenty-five pounds. Do you have neighbors who will be upset about dogs who bark a lot? When Love Wags a Tail is filled with stories that will hopefully teach these and other lessons to my readers. 

WOW: Those are great things for people to know! Are you working on another? Can people submit?

Carmen: I’m not accepting submissions yet. The last two books in the series are already set in my brain. One will use the same format as these two, but all the stories will be about getting a dog when you have young children at home. Just as seniors have challenges when it comes to welcoming dogs into their lives, so do young families. I think this will be a fun book to write. 

The last book will be a doggy devotional and I’m really excited to get back into faith-based writing. I’m applying for a loan to help with the cost of doing an illustrated, four-color, hard cover book so the timing will depend on if I get that loan for publishing costs. It’s a big investment to do a four-color. Once I decide which book comes first I’ll post it on my website and other places.

WOW: That sounds amazing! I can't wait! Can you tell me about the non-profit you are working with that will receive some of the proceeds?

Carmen: Second Chance Shelter is based in Boaz, Alabama. They rescue strays and also take in dogs when families can no longer care for them for many reasons. When Love Wags a Tail has a story with more details about how they started their shelter. In 2018 a group here in Wisconsin learned about them and the need to transport dogs outside of Alabama so that could find forever homes. That’s when Second Chance North was born. 

The shelter in Alabama is a 501c3 and can accept tax deductible donations. The adoption fee for a dog who is spayed or neutered and fully vaccinated is only $60.00 because of the overwhelming number of strays and the poverty level. That means that they lose money on every adopted dog and struggle to pay the costs of having a brick-and-mortar business with employees. 

One of the cool thing about this partnership is that Second Chance North in Wisconsin has an adoption fee of $375.00 which is still on the low side up here. 100% of the adoption fee goes back down to Alabama which allows them to rescue more dogs. 

WOW: I love what you are doing for these pet shelters. Why is having a dog such a beneficial addition to someone's life?

Carmen: There are so many benefits to sharing your life with a dog. When Love Wags a Tail is full of stories from seniors and how their lives are better because of the companionship of their dog, but people of all ages will benefit from having a dog. 

Most people feel that dogs are like family members. Our four-legged family members provide unconditional love and easy companionship. If you’re like me, you probably feel like your dog resonates with you emotionally. Because of that, we feel less lonely when surrounded by unconditional love. 

I adopted my dog after a traumatic brain injury that left me anxious, stressed, depressed, and suicidal. It was getting out of bed each day and finding a reason to keep living. Studies have shown, and I know this to be true based on my blood work, that being a dog mom has significantly lowered my heart and systolic blood pressure and has improved my cardiovascular health. Being forced to get out and walk my dog is a huge part of my improved physical health.

People who interact with their dogs have higher levels of serotonin and dopamine mainly due to the fact that dogs are calming and familiar companions. That leads to reduced stress and anxiety, which in turn leads to better mental health. 

Another benefit to owning a dog is that dogs are natural conversation starters which promotes social interaction. The more social interaction you have, the more likely you are to engage in fulfilling relationships with people that make you happy. 

WOW: Great points! Why is rescuing a better option?

Carmen: Whether you adopt a puppy or an older animal, you get just as much love (if not more) than if you purchased a dog from a breeder or a puppy mill. An adopted dog is every bit as loving, intelligent, and loyal as a purchased pet. By adopting a rescue dog, you are giving it a second chance, a home, and a family. That means that not only will you save a life, you’ll also open up shelter space for another animal that might desperately need it. 

Plus, most dogs that wind up in a shelter or rescue situation are there through no fault of their own. Problems such as divorce, illness, death, loss of jobs, or a change in a living situation are a few of the reasons why a dog needs a new home. In addition, the costs of spay/neuter surgery, up-to-date vaccinations, recent veterinarian care, and microchipping are often included in the adoption fee. 

Among countless others reasons!

WOW: So many good reasons to adopt a rescue dog! Can you tell me about your writing routines?

Carmen: When I published my first book in the Wag Away Tales series, I started a Facebook group for owners of rescue dogs. I am usually at the computer at 6:30 each morning writing content for that page. If I am working on a book I try and write 2,000 words a day. Before writing those words, I edit what I did the day before to get me ready to wrote the next section.

Once I submit the manuscript to the editor, I do lots of marketing tasks, It might be creating memes, writing informational articles for my doggy group, and the writing that goes with marketing. I try and do five marketing tasks every day, but usually end up doing more. 

When the book comes back from the editor I shift into a new mode. I print off the manuscript and leave the house to mark it up with corrections and the next day I make put those changes into the computer version. I am a pretty disciplined writer and I love deadlines. 

WOW: I love your routine. How has marketing your book been this time around? Have you done any new approaches?

Carmen: I have one huge event I created and Wag Away Publishing will be the lead sponsor. It doesn’t have a name yet, but we are doing a fundraising event for the therapy dog at our local homeless shelter. I am so excited to be able to create awareness about rescue dogs while helping those who are homeless for any number of reasons. I’ve gotten a location, food, and sponsors and now we start pulling together gift baskets and raffle items and we’re doing a mommy/doggy fashion show and dog-themed businesses to do a pop-up shop. All the proceeds will be going to the homeless shelter. The sponsors are really high-profile companies so we should get some great PR which I think will sell books. 

Because of the garden themes I am speaking at garden club meeting which is new for me.I am working on a music video! It will be on YouTube and TikTok and other places and the final screen will lead people to information on the books. It’s scary and exciting. 

WOW: I love how you engage in your community and onlnine! What else are you working on that you can tell us about?

Carmen: I have books that I have regained the rights to and so I am looking at getting them back into print. I have been asked to teach a course at Fox Valley Technical College on getting your book published so I am working on my course outline now. They are also partnering with me to write a book about the immigrant entrepreneurial experience. And I still have two more books to write in the Wag Away Tales series. I’m keeping busy and that’s a good thing. 

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

When Love Wags a Tail by Carmen Leal Blog Tour

--- Blog Tour Calendar

May 27th @ The Muffin
Join us at our blog, The Muffin, for an interview with author Carmen Leal and a giveaway of her book When Love Wags a Tail. 

May 28th @ Just Katherine
Visit Katherine's blog for a guest post by Carmen Leal about the rule of 3-3-3 and other important things to know when you adopt a dog.

May 29th @ Candid Canine
Visit Chris' blog for a review of When Love Wags a Tail by Carmen Leal. You can also win a copy of the book!

May 30th @ A Storybook World
Join Deidra for a spotlight of When Love Wags a Tail by Carmen Leal. 

June 3rd @ Maddie Gudenkauf
Visit Maddie's blog for her review of When Love Wags a Tail by Carmen Leal. 

June 5th @ Create Write Now
Visit Mari's blog for a guest post by Carmen Leal about finding purpose in your life after retirement.

June 7th @ Candid Canine
Visit Chris' blog for a guest post by Carmen Leal about the benefits of adopting a dog as a senior.

June 10th @ The Faerie Review
Visit Lily's blog for a spotlight of When Love Wags a Tail by Carmen Leal. 

June 12th @ Barbara Barth's Art & Words
Visit Barbara's blog for her review of When Love Wags a Tail by Carmen Leal. 

June 13th @ Knotty Needle
Visit Judy's blog for her review of When Love Wags a Tail by Carmen Leal. 

June 15th @ The Forgotten Books
Join Heather for her review of When Love Wags a Tail by Carmen Leal. 

June 16th @ A Wonderful World of Books
Visit Joy's blog for a spotlight of When Love Wags a Tail by Carmen Leal. You can also win a copy of the book!

June 17th @ Frugal Freelancer
Visit Sara's blog for a spotlight of When Love Wags a Tail. You can also enter to win a copy of the book!

June 18th @ Words by Webb
Visit Jodi's blog for her review of When Love Wags a Tail.

June 20th @ Knotty Needle
Visit Judy's blog for a guest post by Carmen Leal about taming a wild garden when you don't know where to begin.

June 23rd @ The Shaggy Shepherd
Visit Isabelle's blog for a guest post by Carmen Leal about the value of planting a rain garden.

June 25th @ World of My Imagination
Join Nicole for a review of When Love Wags a Tail. You can also win a copy of the book.

June 27th @ Fiona Ingram's blog
Visit Fiona's blog for her review of When Love Wags a Tail.

June 30th @ Jill Sheet's blog
Visit Jill's blog for her interview with Carmen Leal about her book When Love Wags a Tail.

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

Enter to win a copy of When Love Wags a Tail by Carmen Leal! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win. The giveaway ends June 9th at 11:59 pm CT. We will choose a winner the next day and announce in the Rafflecopter widget and follow up via email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Interview with Amy DeFlavis, Runner Up in the WOW! Q2 2024 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Congratulations to Amy DeFlavis of Bucks County, Pennsylvania for her award-winning story, "Being Marketing," and to all of the other contestants and winners of the WOW! Women on Writing Quarter 2 2024 Essay Contest!

Today, I'm excited to interview Amy DeFlavis about her award-winning essay.

Amy Deflavis
Amy’s Bio: Amy DeFlavis resides and writes in a charming, bucolic town in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Her short stories and flash fiction have earned placements on Women on Writing’s extensive list and secured spots in the top twenty-five of the Writers Digest annual competition. 

Outside her corporate day job, she dedicates her time to editing her debut romance novel, refining her author website, and meticulously crafting query letters. Her moments of respite are found in renovating her historic home, planning adventures to various corners of the world, and mastering manifestation techniques to create the life of her dreams. 

Before we get to our interview, make sure you check out her essay, "Being Marketing," first. Then come on back to learn more about Amy and her writing!

Interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

WOW: Welcome, Amy. Thank you for writing such a riveting, important, and humorous essay! What is the take away you'd like readers to gain from "Being Marketing"? 

Amy: This one was special to me. As a woman who has worked in corporate America for the past thirty years, I've had my share of experiences. The two men at the beginning of the essay are a culmination of people I've dealt with rather than anyone in particular. Sometimes, I felt it was difficult to have my voice heard, and I learned that it was better just to keep my mouth shut altogether in some cases. I'm also small in stature (4'11"), which led me to try to prove myself in order to be taken seriously in an industry predominantly run by men. I'm happy to say all of my current coworkers are lovely people who value me and the work I do. 

But as a Gen X-er, I think some of us stayed in situations or jobs or felt stuck in places because we were afraid. At least I did. I was too afraid to take a chance on something else that might have led me down a different, more creative path in life. I was too worried about paying my mortgage, or failure, or just not having anything to fall back on. Looking back, I see where I could have taken more risks, and I wish I had. I wish I'd let myself fall in love more, or left the safety of my hometown, or walked away from people who didn't value me. I know now that I would have been just fine, and I'm trying not to beat myself up too much for taking this long to realize it. Becoming an author in mid-life and traveling around the globe, sometimes solo, made me realize that the only person who's going to get me out of the mundane, uninspiring situations, bad relationships, or toxic friendships is me. No one is coming to save me, and I don't want to end up like Sandy in my story. 

So, the takeaway for readers? Grab life when you can. It doesn't matter how old you are, and it's never too late. But most importantly, remember that there's always going to be someone who is still afraid, and they'll want you to be too. It gives them comfort and makes them feel not so alone. They'll want you to play it safe and not put your toe in the water because what lurks underneath is unknown. Don't listen to those people. 

WOW: Grab life when you can—I love that! And you're right, it's never too late. What advice would you give to others (specifically female authors) when it comes to self-care? 

Amy: This one was huge for me, and I learned it the hard way. When I wrote the first and second drafts of my novel, I was working my full-time corporate job and dealing with a parent with dementia, as well as living in a world of uncertainty due to all the fears around COVID. Writing became my outlet but quickly escalated into obsession. I would rush home from work (where I had been sitting at a desk all day) and then continue to sit again for hours—on my couch or in bed, sometimes past midnight, to get it all down. I was also trying to squeeze in time to work with my book coach, participate in writing groups, and read a book a week in my genre to keep up. There was so much to learn, and I was impatient for things to move faster. I felt behind and punished myself for not having enough hours in the day to do it all. I neglected my physical health and was tired, sluggish, and very stressed all the time. I found myself crying in the shower or the car because I was at a breaking point. 

So, one day, when I realized I was on the verge of imploding, I forced myself to take a step back. I tried to revisit all the reasons I loved writing and why I wanted to do it in the first place. I knew I needed to learn to relax, and I made a concerted effort to do that. I started running again and setting a timer for myself so that I didn't fall down the rabbit hole for hours on end when I sat down to write. I made time for friends, as well as other things besides just writing. I let myself connect with people more. I traveled and didn't bring my laptop. I started meditating again, going for monthly massages, and basically just connecting with myself again. I also set my novel aside every now and then and started writing some short stories. They helped me shift focus and also improved my writing. 

Now, I feel like I have more balance. I know I couldn't have kept going the way I was before. I would have completely burned out. I think, as women, we often forget how important it is to put ourselves first. I don't have a family, but I can't imagine how hard this concept must be for women who do. I guess I would say to them, do what works for you, no matter how small that thing may be. Getting a manicure or going out in nature for a ten-minute walk. Or just screaming into a pillow. (I did that, too, and it felt surprisingly good.) Whatever you can fit into your schedule, do it. Feed your soul however you can. I go at a steadier and more balanced pace now. There are still bumps in the road where I have writer's block or imposter syndrome, but I try to ride them out and let the feelings pass in their own time. They always do. And I know now that everything will take as long as it takes. It's not a race. The biggest take-away I would give female writers is that you are your biggest asset, and if you're not healthy and happy, your body, your mind, and your writing will suffer. Make sure you make yourself a priority from the beginning because no one else will do it for you. 

WOW: It's so important to find that balance! We have to keep working at it, and it's not a race. I'm glad those shifts helped improve your writing. So, what’s next for you? What are your writing goals for the rest of 2024 and beyond? 

Amy: I've just started the third draft of my romantic suspense. My goal for 2024 is to have it out to Beta readers by the summer and then start pitching agents in the fall. I'm also halfway through my second book, a contemporary romance, and would like to try to finish that first draft by the end of the year. In between, I'm going to keep submitting flash fiction and creative nonfiction to outlets like WOW. I keep saying I'm going to get an author's website up and running, and I think this is the year to try to do that, too. In between massages, of course! 

WOW: Massages, of course! Those are excellent goals, Amy, and I'm thrilled to hear you're writing a romantic suspense! What is your history with writing contests? Tell us what prompted you to submit to this particular contest? What would you like to tell other authors concerning contests and submitting their work? 

Amy: I started submitting to writing contests about two years ago. The results were dismal! I look back at some of those initial works and cringe at how forced they were. I hadn't found my voice yet. But I knew I had stories to tell, and once I started interweaving some of my own experiences into those stories, that's when things really got going. I made WOW's long list with a flash fiction piece and then placed in the Writer's Digest competition. I was shocked. I couldn't believe it. I started writing more, and they just poured out of me. That's what led me to write "Being Marketing." I think I wrote it in one night and then tweaked it for about a week before knowing it was ready. It started with one thought. Someone in a job, years ago, patted me on the head. It was a joke, and I didn't take it personally. People were always making fun of my height or leaning an arm on my head or shoulder. But that's what prompted the story. It rose up out of me—all those years of trying to prove myself, and before I knew it, the finished work stared up at me, and I thought, "Yes, this is what I've wanted to say for so long. This is how I feel." 

I try to infuse humor into most of my pieces because I think that makes them relatable. They're funny because we've all been through similar situations. I feel my most free when I'm writing flash fiction, short stories, or creative nonfiction. They all truly feel like a piece of me that I'm putting out into the world. They come to life in my mind and then float down onto the page, seemingly with as little effort as it takes to breathe. It wasn't always that way. I struggled, and my earlier works are a testament to how little I knew myself. But finding my groove has been really liberating, and I look forward to submitting more pieces soon. 

For anyone who wants to try their hand at it, I would say, pull your ideas from your own experiences. That's where the gold is. And also, always pay for the critique! That's really important feedback and will help you. I do that with every piece. One of my earlier works didn't make the long list, but I took the feedback, reworked the story a little bit, and resubmitted it to the next contest. That one placed! Keep going, don't let rejection get you down (it's part of life and something we all have to deal with), and look back at your older works to remind yourself how far you've come. 

WOW: Congratulations on the Writer's Digest competition! You are so great at writing humor. Also, thank you for your kind words about WOW's contests. It's been a pleasure chatting with you today, Amy, and I hope to do it again soon. Good luck on your novel!


Interviewed by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto who just keeps on keeping on and can be found blogging and sharing on social media hashtag #raisingkidsandcattle #shelovesgodandsheridesgoodhorses #thankfulgratefulblessed 

 Check out the latest Contests: 
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Walk and Write: Interview with Cheryl Murfin, Founder of Compass Writers

Saturday, May 25, 2024
Holy Island

Today, I'm excited to interview Cheryl Murfin, founder of Compass Writers, a support writing community that hosts workshops, retreats, and more that help writers and artists along their journey. They are hosting a Walk & Write Retreat in 2024 that is scheduled this year from September 20 through September 29 at  St. Cuthbert's Way in Scotland. It's a 9-day retreat that will explore several themes: seeing and listening deeply, facing the writing void, and exploring one's truth in narrative, poetic, or personal journaling form. This workshop is open to writers of all levels, whether you haven't picked up that pen since high school or you're well-published. 

About Cheryl Murfin

Cheryl Murfin

The most important thing to know about Cheryl Murfin is that she loves to write and to encourage and support other writers. She received a BA in Journalism and worked as a newspaper reporter for six years. She has been a contributor to numerous magazines over the past 35 years and is currently managing editor of Seattle's Child. She co-authored one travel book and contributed to two Fodor's travel guides. She holds a Master's of Integrated Arts in Education. Cheryl has led free writing groups for 20 years and is a certified Amherst Writers & Artists facilitator. She conceived Compass Writers during her thesis work and after walking retreats after walking and writing the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, Scotland's West Highland Way, and portions of the Via Francigena. 

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: I'm so thankful you are joining us today! What inspired you to start organizing writing retreats that combine walking, nature, and artistic activities?

Cheryl: Every now and then, as a writer, I find myself stuck, and no amount of staring at the blank page seems to make my fingers budge. But I noticed many years ago that when I take a walk (30 minutes or more), my mind seems to open up. Ideas flow as I stroll, and by the time I get home, something makes its way to the page. The impact on my writing was more profound when I walked in nature. 

I was curious if this was just me or if something else, possibly biological, was at play. Around the same time, I started hearing about a new approach to education: Arts-Integrated Education. In a nutshell, the model couples art-making with an academic subject to support the learning of both disciplines. While the approach was developed for K-12 education, I wondered if it might be a way to enhance creativity in writers. 

So, I decided to get a master's degree in arts-integrated education, focusing on writing. I enrolled in the Creative Pulse masters program at the University of Montana, a wildly creative space where ample research confirmed my ideas. Movement and art stimulate the brain's creative centers and can help writers—or anyone engaged in "thinking" work—access new ideas, broaden old ones, and otherwise get unstuck. 

I combined all I learned to create the Compass Writers Walking Writers Retreat

Walk and Write for Creativity

On the first few walks, I measured walking writers' creativity using standard assessments. I also asked participants to report on the frequency of their writing practice. All participants tested higher on the creativity scale after the walk than before and continued to test higher at three months, six months, and one year post-retreat. At six months, most participants also continued a daily writing practice—even those who did not identify as writers and wrote only sporadically before the retreat. It's not a scientific study, but enough to convince me I'm on to something!

WOW: I love the methodology you used to build the program. How do physical activities, like walking and yoga, contribute to the creative writing process? 

Cheryl: At the most basic level, these activities increase blood flow to the brain and oxygen to the lungs, both needed for the brain's creative centers to function at their highest level. On top of that, by occupying the body with movement, your thoughts open up. Often, the body, its needs, and the needs of the environment around us pull us from our thoughts and our work. When I move, I think better, and I've found that's true for a lot of other writers. In my own experience, if I am working on a piece and can't quite get it out, a walk always gets me closer to the solution to the problem I am facing in my writing.

WOW: I really think there is something to that. Can you explain the Amherst Writers & Artists method and how it creates a safe and nurturing environment for writers?

Cheryl: AWA is about inclusion, celebrating each writer's unique voice however it comes and equalizing the writing playing field. In the AWA approach, no writer is superior to others. You are a writer if you move your fingers across a keyboard, pen across paper, or use assistive devices to get your words down. And that means you are an artist. 

Compass Women's Writing Retreat
In an AWA retreat, we do not "workshop." Instead, we give each other positive feedback on what we write—what works with a piece? What stays with the reader? We do this understanding that receiving positive feedback inherently leads a writer to notice for themselves what may not work in a piece. If no one mentions the line you thought should win the Pulitzer, then perhaps you'll rethink that line. 

Most importantly, AWA understands that writing is scary for some people, especially marginalized people or those who received papers full of red ink back in grade school. We create a space where all are welcome, treated as equals, and respected, no matter how they use the English language—or don't! All that we share is drafted the day we read it back so that all are at the same draft level of vulnerability.

WOW: That's amazing! How have writing retreats helped writers with their existing projects or their overall creative spirit?

Cheryl: Often, writers will bring a project they are working on and use the prompts we engage in during the walk to further that piece of work or explore it in new ways. However, no one is forced to use the prompts. A writer is invited to write what they want or need on a walk, prompts be damned. The walk is their space and time. I supply the movement, nature, and art to boost the process, should they want or need it.

WOW: I think that's great. Do you have to do a lot of art to join a walk?

Cheryl: Absolutely not! We've had zero Picassos so far. Let's be clear on the art. The exercises we are doing are brain stimulators, not high art. You do not have to have any background in art to participate. Stick figures are A-Ok! 

WOW: Ha, well that's great to hear! What is the significance of choosing a pilgrimage route like St. Cuthbert's Way for the writing retreat?

Cheryl: Pilgrimage routes are super conducive to writing. They have a certain ancient and spiritual buzz above them, whether you are an atheist or have a spiritual discipline you follow. They are created to "hold space" and invite walkers deeper into their thoughts and feelings. It's essential for writers interested in walking with me to know that I bring no religious affiliation, spiritual practice, or belief in anything beyond their writing on a walk.

St. Cuthbert's Way Walking Retreat
We will approach this path from a historical perspective. Scotland has dubbed St. Cuthbert's one of the country's official historic walkways. 

That said, you will see many nods to the region's religious history and to individuals revered or considered holy within that history. If that spirituality inspires you, lovely. But my goal for the retreat is for writers to find deep connections along the path—with each other, with themselves, and with nature.

Pilgrimage, at its essence, is the act of stepping out of one's ordinary life for a time to consider new thoughts, explore emotions, and contemplate one's inner world. A pilgrimage starts at one place, has a midpoint, and arrives at another place, internally and externally. To me, writing is a pilgrimage.

WOW: That's so profound. How do you ensure that the writing activities and prompts are inclusive and accessible to writers of all levels?

Cheryl: The AWA approach is designed for just that purpose: to make writers of all levels, abilities, and cultures feel safe, included, and respected. This philosophy drives everything I do.

WOW: How do you prepare participants for the physical demands of the walking portions of the retreat?

Cheryl: I offer participants a walker training plan. It's up to them to do it!

WOW: Good to know! What are some of the most rewarding aspects of facilitating these writing retreats?

Cheryl: It is an extraordinary thing to watch others meet the physical and emotional challenges of a long walk, whether they walk every step or make that distance in some other way. And it is always a great and sometimes humbling honor for me to hear the brand new words of writers that flow from these miles.

WOW: That must be so amazing. Can you share any plans or ideas for future writing retreats or locations you would like to explore?

Cheryl: In April 2025, I'll take a group of walking writers along the Kumano Kodo, a Japanese pilgrimage known for its lush environments and the country's most sacred temples. We're still in the planning stages, but we'll have eight spots in that retreat, and five are already filled. So if anyone is interested in joining, email me at!

WOW: I hope people join! You have until June 15 to join the current event to Walk & Write at St. Cuthbert's Way.
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The Ever-Evolving Journey of a Writer

Thursday, May 23, 2024

As writers, we are on an ever-evolving journey. I reflected on this today as another writer I follow sent out a newsletter saying they were moving on and planned on walking away from their newsletter. This was a short time after a writer of a popular newsletter sold hers. For the former, it was due to an upcoming divorce and needing to redirect her attention; the latter wanted to devote more of her energy to writing again.

These two writers decided to change their focus and where they were putting their energy. I've made those choices myself along the way. This time last year, I was still paying a lot of attention and energy to public relations and trying to make a go of things in that direction. By October 2023, I had decided to walk away from it, realizing it was no longer right for me. I still have hung on to some tendrils of that avenue, as I do book people into podcasts sometimes. But it's slowly becoming a thing of the past.

After walking away from public relations, I realized that sometimes, I think we hang onto things because we feel so worried about the impact they will have on those in the sandbox with us, so to speak. I had to let go of a client who was actually really happy with my work. I walked away from a fairly popular writing prompt that I hosted on my blog for a long time, feeling guilty that I was maybe letting people down.

Both decisions turned out right. And I'm glad I walked away.

I've also realized that sometimes, we need to walk away from our stories. I did walk away from one semi-recently, which I think was more me processing being let go of my day job in 2018. I realized I no longer felt led to rewrite the story or submit it. Now, it's in the archives of my mind, maybe waiting to become flash fiction or be used in another way. 

I also quietly backed away from a writing gig that was an essential part of my growth in 2023 and was a catalyst for numerous opportunities. However, it was a necessary part of my journey.

I think that's part of growing as a writer: knowing when to let go. 

Nicole Pyles is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. Her writing has appeared in Sky Island Journal, Arlington Literary Journal, The Voices Project, The Ocotillo Review, and Gold Man Review. A poem of hers was also featured in the anthology DEAR LEADERS TALES. Her short story, “The Mannequin of Lot 18,” was nominated for Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy for 2024. Since she’s not active on social media very much, stay in touch by following her writing blog at World of My Imagination.
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A Tale of Two Kindles

Tuesday, May 21, 2024


2012 Kindle Paperwhite on the left, new model on the right.

I bought my first Kindle, a Paperwhite, in 2012 when I was working for WOW! as a Blog Tour Manager. I needed to be able to read PDFs of the books sent to us by prospective authors, so I purchased one and soon grew to love it. I even bought a cute cover for it from Amazon once I realized having a black cover made it hard for me to find the Kindle when I needed it (too much blending into every other countertop and piece of furniture in our house). That Kindle was well worn, loved and used for years and years. It went back and forth with me to the pool, the beach, on airplanes, and in the past few years, I realized it helped me when I woke up in the middle of the night and had a hard time going back to sleep. I could open my Kindle, read for a few minutes without turning on a light and waking up my husband, and go back to sleep. 

I bought my two children Kindle Fires, with the color screens, when they were younger, and one of them has already died. But still, my trusty Paperwhite soldiered on. 

In the past few years, when I discovered I could check books from my library through the Libby app and send them directly to my Kindle, it got even more use. But about a month ago, I noticed the Kindle acting “clunky.” It would take a long time to “flip” the pages, and there were a few times it restarted on its own for no apparent reason. Then, one night, when I was having trouble sleeping, it refused to come on. I kept pushing the power button and nothing happened. After about two hours of lying awake in bed and trying to turn it on periodically, I gave up. The next day, I made this Facebook post: 

I’ve had my Kindle Paperwhite since 2012 and that’s normally what I turn to when I’m having trouble sleeping. I’ll read for five or ten minutes and that’s all I need. The device, after many days of sending me emphatic warnings, departed this world around 12:30 a.m. I finally fell asleep unassisted around 2 a.m. I’m surprised it lasted this long! 

My friends got a laugh out of that, and I begrudgingly set about ordering a new and improved Paperwhite, gritting my teeth against the cost of it and a new cover (because it is a slightly-different size than my original). I told myself I originally paid around $150 for the first one and I have gotten much more than that original investment out of it. 

I received my new one and love all the new features and speed at which it operates. Then my husband asked me if he could look at my old one. He said, “I wonder if something sticky got on the power button and was causing it not to start back up.” Sure enough, he took a damp paper towel and wiped the area of the power button, noting a substance there (perhaps spilled coffee or a protein shake). 

Guess what? The old Kindle Paperwhite is back to working just fine now. Oh well, I guess now I have a backup that I can take to the pool and beach that won’t be a big loss if it gets damaged? I have to say, I am impressed by the longevity of this product. If your ever on the fence about getting one, especially the Paperwhite, you will get your money’s worth, I promise. And no, this is not an ad. 

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer, Kindle enthusiast, and creator/host of the true crime podcast Missing in the Carolinas.
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Querying with a Fun Fact

Thursday, May 16, 2024

My feline overlord.

I’ve been querying and pitching seriously for 5 or 6 months. I’m not sure how many I sent out, but the response was discouraging. There were no positive rejections. No “send me something else.” The only personal rejection told me that they had just signed something very similar to my idea. Sigh. 

Then I retook a class on pitching. The instructor is Amber Petty. Her idea is that you should be able to pull most magazine and website pitches together in a half hour or less. In her list of what should go into a pitch, she includes all of the standard things you see in a query letter (greeting, here’s my idea, here is how I’m going to approach it, here is a bit about me and where my work has sold). 

Then she adds something different. She recommends ending with an interesting fact about yourself. “I pitch article ideas from my office in a 200-year-old farmhouse.” “When I’m not writing, I take my watercolors and create urban sketches around Boston.” Her reasoning for this is that you never know what it is that will grab an editor’s attention. She’s had people turn down her pitch but ask her to write a piece somehow related to her interesting fact.

I have never been able to bring myself to include something like this. I just . . . no! I’m from the Midwest. I’m Presbyterian! We do things just so and that does not include willy nilly touchy feely irrelevant facts tacked onto the end of a pitch letter. 

I’m sorry! It just doesn’t. 

As I was working up my most recent batch of queries, I researched the various agents as I always do. I was reading about one potential agent on The Manuscript Wish List. After giving information about the types of manuscripts she is looking for, she had a paragraph labeled “Fun Facts about Me.” Among the various facts was something about the demanding cat who holds her prisoner. 

I glanced again at the types of manuscripts that she wants. My book is about mountain lions from their evolution to life in the suburbs and cities. It is for an early middle grade audience and very science oriented. Her manuscript interests circled around this but didn’t overlap it. She wants middle grade nonfiction. She wants nonfiction, science-oriented picture books. 

I thought that I should probably keep looking but something kept bringing me back to this listing. Before I could change my mind again, I prepped my query letter and sample pages. What about that interesting fact? Should I include it at the end? I decided against it. 

Instead, I opened with: I laughed out loud when I saw your page at Manuscript Wish List. Like you, I am captive of a feline overlord. Newton demands frequent brushing and chin scratches. Then I moved on to discuss the manuscript. 

As long as I was being bold, I felt that I should admit that I knew it wasn’t quite what she was looking for. I was glad to see that you like STEM and STEAM and hope you will be interested in The Mountain Lion even though it is for a young middle grade audience. 

Amber Petty may be on to something. This was the first query that brought a request for a full. Even if it doesn’t bring a contract, it got her attention. We’re conversing. If she doesn’t want this, maybe she’ll want something else. 


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 June 3, 2024. She teaches:
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I Learned a New Word Today

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

As a big fan of crosswords and Scrabble, I’m always learning new words. Words like qaid, a tribal leader, but more importantly a word that uses the letter q but doesn’t need a u. But yesterday morning, I learned a new word as I brushed my teeth. The morning news folks were talking about Jenifer Hudson, the multi-hyphenate. The what?

Turns out multi-hyphenate first made an appearance in the entertainment industry of the 1970s for things like producer-director or writer-actor. But my introduction to this new world, Jennifer Hudson is a singer-actress-talk show host-author-Weight Watcher spokesperson-clothing line launcher or, for short, a multi-hyphenate. Although originally used for creative people, when Emma Gammon’s book The Multi-Hyphen Life: Work Less, Create More, and Design a Life That works for You was released in 2020 it expanded the use of multi-hyphenate to…well, everyone. Because who doesn’t have a side gig, passion or hobby in addition to their main job?

Some may feel that labelling yourself a multi-hyphenate makes you sound impressive, accomplished, driven. But I have my doubts. Because what human has dedicated themselves to just one role in life? My world is populated by a baker who is also a production line worker. A banker who is also a philanthropist. An IT specialist who is also a musician. A teacher who is also a mountain climber. A probation officer who is also a landscaper.

Don’t get me started about writers! How do they fit into the multi-hyphenate world? I’ve known writers  who were also librarians, lawyers, museum directors, teachers, forklift drivers, personal assistants, cellists, teachers, engineers, therapists, racehorse breeders and farmers. Not to mention the many writing related titles we assume: novelist, non-fiction author, children’s author, copyeditor, publicist, publishers, proofreader, literary agent, writing instructor, journalist, editor, content writer, book reviewer, columnist.

Personally, I’m a blogger-content writer-essayist-blog tour manager-social media manager-book reviewer-photographer-author. Or as I like to call myself: a writer. 

There was a time when advice from on high told writers to specialize in one type of writing. Is any writer a specialist now or are we better served by becoming proficient in multiple areas? And if we all branch out into many areas does the term multi-hyphenate lose all its cache?

Are we all just…people?

Jodi M. Webb writes from her home in the Pennsylvania mountains. After a decade hiatus from writing, she is back with recent bylines in Bob Vila, Pennsylvania Magazine 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 Susan Enzer: Q2 2024 Creative Nonfiction Contest Third Place Winner

Sunday, May 12, 2024
Susan’s Bio:
Susan Enzer is a writer of vignettes and creative nonfiction stories. Named a Top Writer of 2023 by Papers Publishing, her work also appears in Passengers Journal where it was featured in their inaugural Podcast. She studies at The Writers Studio and attends workshops at Westport Writers. Susan is currently working on a memoir. She lives in New York City and can be reached at or on Instagram @susan.enzer1.

If you haven't done so already, check out Susan's award-winning essay "Scents of a Life" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing third in the Q2 2024 Creative Nonfiction Contest! How did you begin writing your essay and how did it and your writing processes evolve as you wrote? 

Susan: It started with a prompt on the senses. The sense of smell is evocative, a trigger for memories. I began with the memories of the difference in the scents of each of my two newborn sons. The more I wrote about Joshua, the more his story unfolded through aromas and scents. And the more the details emerged – the insulins, the bitterness of its taste and the condition always there. Above all he was a boy, a teenager, a young man. So, I wanted to document that journey. Again, it was the scents that revealed the memories of who he was. 

WOW: Yes, scents can be such a powerful memory trigger, and you used this so well in your story. What did you learn about yourself or your writing by creating this essay? 

Susan: I am resilient, persistent, and patient. I wrote, revised, distanced myself from the piece, changed the title at least five times and finally "set it free" after three years. 

WOW: I love this because it shows that writing and publication are not straightforward or linear processes. And, speaking of writing processes, please tell us more about your memoir-in-progress. 

Susan: It is a story of stories and vignettes threaded through the resilience of a mother and son who are “married” by his chronic illness. She yearns to make him whole. She is determined to pass each test of endurance, step into and through each crisis. Her belief (magical) that this will bring them closer to having lives of their own. Over time, her growing awareness that his magical belief is that he can ignore his chronic illness. That he is not ill. That he is free from consequences. 

WOW: Thank you for sharing that glimpse into your story, which sounds like it has layers of depth. Which creative nonfiction essays or writers have inspired you most, and in what ways did they inspire you? 

Susan: Nick Flynn who gets himself on the page as well as creating the memoir his father could not write for himself. Lucia Berlin, chatty, meandering and profound. I am not a meanderer so Berlin reminds me I can allow my inner thoughts, even my humor show up. Kate Walbert for her capacity to show the PN on the page through a composite of others. For me that is the shared experience of others with a child, a husband living with chronic illness, renal failure – crises and unwelcome surprises. 

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

Susan: It's not my job to criticize what shows up on the page. It's okay to write those words on the page and read them out loud, to hear them. AND it's okay for me to appear on the page and in the story. I carry memories and details, stories and losses. I need to share them and set them free. 

WOW: Wonderful advice! I like the image of letting your stories free. There’s something very inspiring in that. Thank you for sharing your writing with us and for your thoughtful responses. Happy writing! 

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, founder and editor-in-chief of Sport Stories Press, which publishes sports books by, for, and about sportswomen and amateur athletes. Engage on Twitter or Instagram @GreenMachine459.
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Why Creating Specific Goals Is Essential to Your Writing Success

Thursday, May 09, 2024

When it comes to my freelance work, setting goals comes easily to me. I wanted to become a commerce writer. I took specific, actionable steps, from creating my sample to pitching editors. And voila! It happened. I have other goals, too, such as mastering the cold pitch and expanding into other niches. 

Yet, creatively, I lack in creating the same type of reachable and actionable goals. However, over the weekend, I was thinking about my usual approach and knowing the vague goal isn't working. 

You see, what has motivated me with freelance work is knowing exactly what I wanted to achieve. With creative writing, not so much. 

At first, I blamed being a short story writer, and then I read this article about George Saunders, a prolific short story writer who has published numerous collections. Reading that article helped me realize there's nothing wrong with being in that lane. Not everyone's a novelist or needs to be to achieve success.

And I realized...what did I want from my short story writing? Sure, being in anthologies and having numerous collections published (that people actually want to read) would be ideal. But much like my freelance dreams, I want tangible next-step goals that feel possible to me now. 

Thus, the journey has begun. What does success look like to me? You know that question they ask you in job interviews, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" I have always despised that question because I fight the urge to sarcastically say, "Being alive, I guess." Yet knowing the answer to that can help. What are my tangible next steps to success? What does that even look like to me now? 

I've realized that my lack of actionable goals and stages of success is hindering my motivation. If you struggle with motivation, it may be time to ask yourself: what does success look like to you?  

Nicole Pyles is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. Her writing has appeared in Sky Island Journal, Arlington Literary Journal, The Voices Project, The Ocotillo Review, and Gold Man Review. A poem of hers was also featured in the anthology DEAR LEADERS TALES. Her short story, “The Mannequin of Lot 18,” was nominated for Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy for 2024. Since she’s not active on social media very much, stay in touch by following her writing blog at World of My Imagination.
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