Interview with Krahe, Fall 2023 WOW! Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, April 09, 2024
Going by the (deliberately misspelled) pen name “Krahe,” this bird will write almost anything, but prefers cerebral, surreal, absurdist horror. In stark contrast to some of her written material, she also draws buttons for her local Pokémon Go group. To contact her about writing almost anything (or editing your fanfiction for a small fee), message her on Twitter (@majoukrahe). Buy some of her jewelry on Etsy (CrystalsbyKrahe) if you feel like showing support (or like shiny things).

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on placing as a runner up in our Fall 2023 Flash Fiction competition! Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “All the Time in the World?”

Krahe: Believe it or not, it came from a writing prompt from a local writing group. We were given two lines to start with. The rest was up to us. My mind went to a problem that writers usually have because of course it did.

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

Krahe: I don't write flash regularly, but I am used to writing other things within a given word count. As much of a free bird as I can be, I also find it challenging and fun to work within restrictions (like in flash fiction). Most budding writers aren't used to doing that; it can be a well-deserved kick in the pants.

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

Krahe: The old adage "less is more" comes to mind. Flash fiction requires you to be succinct. It is not for writers that like slathering the audience with details (that can be an issue regardless—watch out!). Break out your thesaurus; sometimes, you can save words by finding one word that works perfectly for your story as opposed to five.

Flash fiction is also great for ideas that you are uncertain about; can you, for example, tell a story with this idea in 750 words or less? You won't know until you try.

WOW: Besides writing, you’re also an artist and have a jewelry shop on Etsy. How do you balance multiple types of creative projects? What works for you?

Krahe: Priorities, I guess. Most of my art projects are for events, like Pokémon GO Community Days or holidays. I don't have control over those dates. I usually need my art done a week or two before then so that the people I work with can make merchandise. Same for writing things with deadlines—the deadlines always come first.

That said, the jewelry part (which I'm sure people want to hear more about) is languishing. It started as an idea during the pandemic. Resin is messy and dangerous to work with. Don't do what I did. I might do something with doming resin or wrapping crystals in the future, but that's it.

Buying something on my Etsy shop is a very easy way to support me, by the way. I get unreasonably excited every time someone makes a purchase!

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

Krahe: Have two.

One is "write every day." It doesn't matter what. Get into the habit of writing something daily.

On that note, two, know when you have a good idea. Edit that idea. Shop it around. Writers might be stereotyped as introverts, but that will hurt you. You won't know your strengths and weaknesses until you put your work out there and learn to take feedback.


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Tales From a Rogue Ranger by Rosanne S. McHenry: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, April 08, 2024


Tales from a Rogue Ranger by Rosanne S. McHenry
We're excited to announce the blog tour for Tales of a Rogue Ranger by Rosanne McHenry. This book—which is equal parts outdoor adventure, danger, humor and overcoming obstacles—is a perfect match for outdoors lovers, women and families. The book is a great vacation read or escape from your everyday life.

“From drug busts and drunken brawls to teen romance on display, from an attack goose to a pot-bellied pig on the loose, Rosanne S. McHenry regales her readers with madcap adventures as a California State Park Ranger working in California’s American River Canyon.”

—Barbara J. Moritsch. Ecologist and Author of Wolf Time and The Soul of Yosemite, Finding, Defending, and Saving the Valley's Sacred Wild Nature

“Rosanne tells it like it is, with humor and wonderful details of the pains and joys of working as a California State Park Ranger.  Fantastic park stories of people and Mother Nature are featured inside this fascinating peek at the world of a park ranger.  Funny, intriguing, and a really good read!” 

—Mike Lynch, retired California State Park Ranger and Historian. Author of Rangers of California State Parks: Over 125 Years of Protection and Service

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

Tales From a Rogue Ranger is full of stories that speak to the comedy and tragedy of being a park ranger: a job that is nothing like you might imagine.  Set against the stunning backdrop of California's American River Canyon, this is an engaging and wildly unusual read about the untamed life of a woman ranger.  From a miner riding a mule to a young man lost in the system, these tales show the kaleidoscope of characters a park ranger encounters, giving the reader a fascinating look into a true ranger experience. Readers will laugh out loud, cry tears of sadness, and feel the greatest joy as they revel in this amazing book!  

Publisher: Book Baby
ISBN-13: 979-8350936056
Print Length: 253 pages

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

About the Author, Rosanne McHenry

Rosanne S. McHenry has worked as both a U.S. National Park Ranger and a California State Park Ranger. Her ranger experiences include the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Mount Rainier National Park, the Auburn State Recreation Area, Folsom Lake, Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, and Death Valley National Park, among others.  

In her latest book, Tales From a Rogue Ranger, McHenry shares her experiences about the rough and tumble life of a patrol ranger near Auburn, California. A park ranger’s job is nothing like you might imagine! Set against the stunning backdrop of California’s American River Canyon, this is an engaging and wildly unusual read about the untamed life of a woman ranger.

McHenry, who first wrote the book Trip Tales: From Family Camping to Life as a Ranger, currently lives and works in Auburn, California, with her husband. The beautiful American River Canyon is adjacent to their home in the Sierra Nevada Foothills.

You can find her online at:

--- Interview by Jodi M. Webb

WOW: Congratulations on the release of your second book, Tales From a Rogue Ranger.
You spent decades as a ranger. How did you narrow down which stories you were going to share?

Rosanne: These are my favorite tales, the ones that are the most intrepid and unusual, the craziest, wildest and most engaging stories that will grab readers’ attention and make them amazed to learn about the kinds of challenges a park ranger faces. Most of the stories are about my own adventures as a ranger, but a few of them are about my husband, Vern, whom I worked with, and who had some pretty amazing, hilarious, and heartwarming tales of his own. 

All of the stories are true, as outlandish as many of them may sound. Reading these tales now as I write them, I’m amazed myself.

WOW: Your book includes stories that run the gamut from sad to funny to thrilling. Do you enjoy writing one type of story?

Rosanne: That’s a tough question to answer because I enjoy telling all of these stories. I think my favorite ones in this book are about being the Whitewater Rafting Program Manager at the Auburn State Recreation Area, on the North and Middle Forks of the American River. This job was hugely challenging, since it was my responsibility to regulate the 45 different whitewater rafting companies on the river. The parts of the job I enjoyed the most involved being on the river to see what was going on, and to ensure that people were being safe. Some of what I saw was hair-raising, like overloaded rafts, people falling out of boats with no lifejackets or helmets on, transport buses with no brakes, and more. It was my job to correct these problems.

There were always conflicts between miners, rafters, kayakers, day-hikers, campers, picnickers, equestrians, and the occasional mountain lion or bear. How do you manage all those conflicting uses? Everyone goes outdoors with different expectations. So it was very rewarding when I was able to work with the different user groups to come up with solutions. 

WOW: Although you portray most of the people in your book in a positive light, did you ever worry that people would not like being in your book or that they would claim you remembered an event incorrectly?

Rosanne: Great question! I asked my former co-workers to review the book for just this reason. When you work that closely with other park rangers and staff you get to know them like family. We patrolled together, trained together, shared confidences, and sometimes endured tragedy together. It was a brotherhood. I don’t think any of the former staff I worked with will be surprised to read these stories. They all have equally adventurous tales of their own.

WOW: What is one thing you hope that readers will remember after reading Tales From a Rogue Ranger?

Rosanne: I hope the book will give readers a true appreciation of nature and the importance of protecting our parklands. 

I also hope readers will also realize the myriad challenges facing park rangers. As they read the stories people will laugh at the antics of the characters, but they’ll also feel amazed at the challenges rangers endure. We put our lives on the line every single day. The dangers we face are very real. The job isn’t easy, but it is immensely rewarding. I can’t think of any other career which offers that kind of freedom and autonomy.

WOW: Your book shares that challenges of being a ranger; what are the challenges of being a writer?

Rosanne: The most difficult for me is promoting the book. Like most writers, I just want to write, and not have to think about how to compete with 80 million other books out there. It’s not easy to market a new book. I recall something my editor told me, and I didn’t really understand what she meant until I wrote my own book: “The book is finished; now the real job begins!” This is so true. Outreach and marketing are an ongoing process requiring perseverance and creativity.

WOW: Did you learn anything while writing your first book that made you do things differently for Tales From a Rogue Ranger

Rosanne: I realized that it’s critical to promote the book as soon as it is being released. This is why the blog tour is an important element of that outreach. Also, my first book was only released on Amazon and Ingram in paperback and Kindle. This time I went with a different publisher that does marketing outreach to all the major book platforms.

Another key thing I learned is to minimize the front and back pages. I gave a brief introduction and prologue to help put the stories into context. But from the beginning, the reader is dropped right into the midst of eye-popping activity. Readers get impatient if they have to slog through too many unnecessary pages, especially if they are looking at a sample online. It’s important to grab the readers’ attention immediately and get to the story. Open up the first chapter with a bang and keep things moving throughout. No boring reminiscing or overly-descriptive scene-setting. Give the reader enough to set the stage, but don’t drown them with excessive detail. If I’m reading a book and have to review the ‘history of the world’ before I can hope to get to the first scene, they’ve lost me.

WOW: Let's forget about the tough parts of being a writer, what's the most fun?

Rosanne: The most rewarding thing about being an author is when someone tells me they felt like they’d been there, right inside the stories! When my readers tell me they felt like they experienced, first hand, the adventures I describe, that for me is the most rewarding thing in the world.

I really love it when a child reads the stories and turns to their parents to tell them, in an excited voice, about how much they love the book. I’ve read some of these stories to my six-year old grandson and have him laughing out loud.

WOW: I think you definitely succeeded in dropping readers right into the action! So much so, that now I'm thinking about summer vacation at a national park. Which national or state parks are on your wish list?

Rosanne: I hope to go to Denali, Badlands, Carlsbad Caverns, Rocky Mountain National Park, Dinosaur National Monument and so many more. I want to return to Yellowstone again because that was so varied and spectacular. I love the Colorado Plateau country of Arizona and Utah the most, and especially love Grand Staircase/Escalante.

WOW: What are you working on now?

Rosanne: At the moment I’m busy launching Tales From a Rogue Ranger, but afterward, I plan to begin writing Travels With Gus, a story about our cantankerous but lovable old motorhome we named ‘Gus’. Born in 1977, Gus was over thirteen years old he we acquired him in 1992. By then he had already traveled all over the West, including Alaska. Gus was a standard shift, four-speed mini pickup with no power steering, so navigating him up and down winding country roads was hard work. 

Gus was tiny, so the four of us (me, my husband and our two kids) had to share two small bunk beds and sit close together around the makeshift dining table, but we loved the freedom of the open road and having our own little camping rig. He was so small he could fit into any parking space anywhere. We drove him all over California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Colorado, visiting stunning national parks and exploring backroads no one had ever heard of!

We had amazing times in Gus, ranging from mishaps to marvelous adventures. Sometimes he’d just quit running and we’d be stranded in a little backwater town, waiting for an obscure mechanical part to come in so we could get him going again. Other times his engine would screech at us as we tried to nudge him up a steep hill. Sometimes he couldn’t quite make it, and we’d have to roll back downhill and make another run. He sounded like a grumpy old man, but this was his charm. We especially loved taking him to the beach where we could hear the waves crashing outside.

WOW: Growing up, my family spent summer camping and we had plenty of crazy mishaps. I look forward to hearing about your adventures with Gus.

Tales from a Rogue Ranger by Rosanne S. McHenry Blog Tour

--- Blog Tour Calendar

April 8th @ The Muffin
Join us at WOW as we celebrate the launch of Rosanne McHenry’s book Tales from a  Rogue Ranger. Read an interview with the author and enter for a chance to win a copy of the book.

April 9th @ What Is That Book About
Get the 411 on Tales From a Rogue Ranger, the story of life as a ranger by Rosanne S. McHenry in today's book spotlight.

April 10th @ Fancy That!
Summer's right around the corner! Get ready with Advice for a Road Trip to a National Park, a guest post by author Rosanne S. McHenry.

April 11th @ Words by Webb
Looking for a different kids of vacation read? Read a review of  Rosanne McHenry's Tales From a Rogue Ranger.

April 12th @ Sara Trimble
Read of review of Rosanne McHenry's Tales From a Rogue Ranger today.

April 15 @ A Storybook World
The spotlight is on Tales From a Rogue Ranger, a book about Rosanne McHenry's adventures as a park ranger.

April 18th @ Word Magic: All About Books
Rosanne S. McHenry, author of Tales From a Rogue Ranger learned a lot during her days as a ranger. Today she shares How NOT to Get Bitten by a Gigantic Rattlesnake.

April 19th @ Pages and Paws
Stop by for a review of Rosanne S. McHenry's book Tales From a Rogue Ranger by Kristine and her canine reviewing partner Kimber.

April 20th @ The Shaggy Shepherd
Join Isabelle at The Shaggy Shepherd for a guest post about the Best National Parks for Families by Rosanne S. McHenry,  author of Tales From a Rogue Ranger.

April 22nd @ Beverly Baird
Learn Beverley's thoughts about of Rosanne S. McHenry's latest book Tales From a Rogue Ranger.

April 23rd @ Chapter Break
Stop by for an interview with Rosanne McHenry, author of Tales From a Rogue Ranger.

April 24th @ Choices
Rosanne McHenry, author of Tales From a Rogue Ranger, tells us how she learned to Succeed at a Job You Never Wanted

April 26th @ Beverly Baird
Stop by Beverley Baird's blog for a guest post by author Rosanne S. McHenry about how to choose which life stories "make the cut" in your memoir.

April 26th @ The Faerie Review
The Faerie Review is spotlighting Tales From a Rogue Ranger by Rosanne S. McHenry.

April 27th @ Pages and Paws
Rosanne S. McHenry, author of Tales From a Rogue Ranger, shares why being a ranger is Not Just a Walk in The Woods by sharing some animal rescues.

April 30th @ World of My Imagination
Read Nicole's review of Tales From a Rogue Ranger by Rosanne S. McHenry.

May 2nd @ Sara Trimble
Stop by Sara Trimble's blog for a guest post on how to choose a book cover from Rosanne McHenry, author of Tales From a Rogue Ranger.

May 9th @ Knotty Needle
Judy shares her thoughts on Rosanne McHenry's latest book: Tales From a Rogue Ranger.

May 11th @ Boys' Mom Reads!
Find out what a Boys' Mom thinks of Tales From a Rogue Ranger by Rosanne McHenry.

May 12th @ Jill Sheet's Blog
Learn more about the author of Tales From a Rogue Ranger with an interview of Rosanne McHenry.

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

Enter to win a copy of Tales from a Rogue Ranger by Rosanne McHenry. Fill out the Rafflecopter form for a chance to win. The giveaway ends April 21st 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 Phyllis Unterschuetz, Runner Up in the Quarter One 2024 Nonfiction Essay Contest

Saturday, April 06, 2024
Congratulations to Phyllis Unterschuetz of Lithia Springs, Georgia and to all of the other contestants and winners of the WOW! Women on Writing Quarter 1 2024 Essay Contest! 

Today I'm excited to interview Phyllis Unterschuetz. Before we get to our interview, make sure you check out her essay, "And the Trees Shall Hold You," first. Then come on back! But first, here's a bit about Phyllis: 

Phyllis Unterschuetz is the co-author of Longing: Stories of Racial Healing (Bahá’í Publishing). She is currently writing her second book, a memoir about finding the courage to tell the abortion story she kept secret for over 50 years. Phyllis was the winner of Tell Your Story’s Spring 2023 Writing Contest. Her work has been published in Science of Mind Magazine, longlisted for the 2023 Amy MacRae Award for Memoir, and nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. She has three grown children and one in the spiritual world, six grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter. Phyllis and her husband live just outside Atlanta in Lithia Springs, Georgia. Visit her website at

 …………..interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto 

WOW: Phyllis, I loved your essay submission but even more so I enjoyed an opportunity to get to know you better! You are so open and honest - qualities I admire in a friend! I’m sure readers will agree, you are a gem! Let’s get down to it; what were you wanting readers to gain from "And the Trees Shall Hold You"? 

PHYLLIS: I hope my readers will think about how they might tap into the power of connectedness when they find themselves in challenging situations. I believe we humans are dual-natured beings—souls who are temporarily associated with physical bodies. We thrive when we are able to draw strength from our connections to each other, to the earth, and to Spirit, including the souls of those who have passed on to the spiritual realm. My experiences at the cemeteries felt magical and mysterious, but they were also very concrete. I grew physically stronger when I imagined myself connected to the trees’ root systems. I’d be thrilled if my readers can have similar experiences. 

WOW: You do an excellent job using your writing to help readers connect to your story - this is truly an impressive skill and quite a gift! Speaking of impressive, you have an impressive bio. What is your latest/current project? 

PHYLLIS: I am writing a memoir about finding the courage to tell my abortion story after trying to keep it secret for over 50 years. It took me a year and a half to finish the first draft, and now I’m six months into my first round of revisions. I’m struggling with the structure, particularly with figuring out my opening scene. I seem to change my mind once a week. But it’s not just the craft issues that are making this book so challenging. 

My first book, which I co-authored with my husband, was a collection of personal essays about healing from our unconscious racial conditioning. We were very transparent in describing how we’d been programmed as white people to see race. We laid bare our souls, hearts, and minds. We dug deep into our vulnerable psyches. I thought that was the hardest thing I’d ever write, but I was wrong. What I’m writing now is much harder. 

I’ve had to search out memories I had repressed and experience them all over again. I ended up working with a therapist for nearly a year when I first started writing the story (which, by the way, is a very smart thing to do if you’re going to write a memoir about a traumatic event.) I’m finally healed enough, and have enough emotional distance, to move beyond getting the story out to crafting something I hope will be beautiful. 

WOW: As a writer who struggles with trauma and healing, I love your insight as far as therapy goes. Thank you. There's so much more I want to know - I can't ask these questions fast enough. 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? 

PHYLLIS: Writing contests are so alluring! I think we all want to see our names next to the word “Winner.” The first contest I entered was the Amy McRae Award for Memoir in 2022. I didn’t place, but I was hooked. Then last spring I wrote an essay about how I was teased in college for being fat, and I entered it into the Tell Your Story Spring Essay contest. I thought I must be out of my mind to put something so raw and revealing into the world for everyone to see, but then it won 1st Place and I didn’t care who read it! 

I entered this WoW contest because I love how you support women writers and I admire the pieces I’ve read by the winners of your previous contests. I figured that placing in a Women on Writing contest would look great in my bio and would connect me with other women who share my goals and values. 

My advice to other authors is submit, submit, submit! I’ve entered a lot of contests since that first one, and most of the time I don’t win. But each submission makes my writing a little better. So whether you’re submitting to contests or for publication in a journal, keep at it! Don’t get discouraged and give up, because you never know when a judge will see the value of your essay and vote it to the top. And it’s such a thrill when your work is recognized like that. 

WOW: Sounds like contests are a great support for you - or at least an encourager - but who is your support? What have you found to be most supportive in your writing life as well as in life in general? You are clearly a nurturer of others. What role has journaling and/or writers groups played in your life? What advice do you have for others during turbulent times? What works or doesn’t work for you when it comes to dealing with stress and the pressures of everyday life? Your answers are so revealing, I want to ask ALL the questions!

PHYLLIS: My spiritual beliefs are my greatest support, both in my daily life and in times of stress. I belong to the Bahá’í Faith, which you probably guessed from my essay. I’ve been a Bahá’í for 56 years, and I turn to its teachings for guidance, comfort, insight, strength, and peace. Prayer and meditation are part of my daily practice. 

I regularly call on loved ones who have died, especially my mom, when I need help or inspiration. Also I believe the child who died when I had the abortion has been helping me all along, even when I tried to pretend he didn’t exist. The story I’m writing is his story too, and he seems to be helping me write it. 

 My biggest human supporters are my husband, my siblings, my kids and their spouses, and the members of my writing groups. I would never have made it this far with my memoir, or in fact with any aspect of my life, without their constant encouragement and love. My children tell me that my abortion story is a part of their legacy. There are no words to describe how much strength it gives me to hear that. 

I belong to a group of eight women working with memoir coach Kim Douglas of Write2Unite. We focus on craft, lifting each other up, identifying what’s working in our writing, and discovering the heart and soul of our books. I also meet weekly with two other memoirists who never hesitate to tell me what’s not working in my writing. Both types of feedback are extremely valuable. I can’t imagine trying to write a book without a combination of loving support and honest critique. 

Moving my body and being in nature also help me deal with stress. When my brain locks up or I start to feel panicky, I bounce on my mini trampoline while listening to loud music, or I go for a walk at the state park near my house. So, back to what I was saying in my essay—when times are turbulent and life is stressful, you can find strength in your connection with other humans, with nature, and with the spiritual world.
WOW: Oh Phyllis - I could keep this up all day and our time is nearing an end - what’s next for you? What are your writing goals for 2024 and beyond? 

PHYLLIS: My 2024 goal is to submit my memoir manuscript to an agent or publisher by the end of this year. I’m not sure if I’ll try for one of the big five publishers or for a smaller traditional press. I’d also like to have several essays published in literary magazines by then. Once my book is out on submission, I’ll start working on an essay collection about my lifelong eating disorder, which was officially diagnosed last year. And there are more stories, so many stories I want to write. I’m turning 75 in two weeks, so I may have to speed up my process. 

WOW: Thank you again for your submission, your honesty, and your time. Congratulations on being one of our runner ups and we certainly look forward to reading more from you in the future and I hope we can interview again so I can ask more questions and gain valuable insight! You are truly a gift!

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 

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The Wonderful World of Freelance Editing: 5 Fabulous Perks of Freelance Editing

By Melanie Faith
Do you love to read? Have you participated in a writing workshop or beta read for a friend? Or taken a creative writing class to learn the building blocks of prose and poetry? Have you offered suggestions for a friend’s essay or creative piece? Are you a creative writer? Are you a fan of precise or beautiful language? Do you love talking about the writing and revision processes? Do you enjoy discovering an individual author’s voice and offering encouragement?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, freelance editing may very well be a wonderful fit for your natural skills, bring enjoyment, and offer some spending money or a helpful additional income to your household while doing something you already love—communicating and developing fun-to-read, page-turning literature for fellow readers.
Let’s look at just a few of the many perks of becoming a freelance editor. 
1. One of the best parts of freelancing is working directly with a motivated writer who is open to suggestions for making their manuscript clearer and more gripping to readers. We all know how hard it can be to spot errors or inconsistencies in one’s own writing, and as a freelance editor you get the privilege of offering feedback that the author may be too close to the manuscript to notice while self-editing. You work as a team to sculpt the work to optimal length, genre specifications, literary devices, pacing, character and/or plot development, and so much more.
2. You also will likely expand your network and build a bond or a friendship with authors whose manuscript you have the chance to review. It’s a sacred, meaningful honor to be entrusted with a writer’s work, and while bringing out the best in the writing, editors and writers work towards the same goals. Once you have offered supportive, clear feedback to an author on one project, they often return when they have other manuscripts they’d like constructive, helpful suggestions on in the future.
3. Freelance editors have freedom of time and freedom of project-choice. Freelancers set up a schedule and a deadline that mutually work for both writer and editor. Freelance editors also enjoy the freedom to pick the kinds of projects and the genres of writing that most excite us. Do you love reading thrillers and fantasy but dislike mysteries and dystopian work? As a freelancer, you can pick and choose the projects that you feel most excited to offer feedback on and that most inspire you.
4. Most freelance editors begin their small businesses as part-timers, so whether you are working another job, serving as a caregiver, raising a family, running another small business, or juggling multiple life stages and vocations, freelancing offers the flexibility to work from home or a café or shared office space at times that work best for you, your schedule, and your life circumstances. I’ve worked with freelance editors and students of all ages—from their twenties through their retirees—who start editing, and these editors have found that freelance editing fits into their lives around other life events and responsibilities with a little organization and planning.
5. You can work with clients from your local neighborhood or from all around the world at a time that is best for you and your clients’ needs.
Clearly, freelance editing offers countless perks and the satisfaction of adding quality, entertaining, meaningful books to the literary landscape. If you have any interest at all in this exciting, flexible field, it’s well-worth looking into and giving it a whirl. 
An Insider's Look at Launching as a Freelance Editor webinar with Melanie Faith
Melanie Faith holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte, NC. She is an author and freelance editor with more than 10 years' experience in the field. Her upcoming webinar on freelance editing, An Insider's Look at Launching as a Freelance Editor, is on Friday, April 12th. 
To learn more about Melanie’s writing, teaching, and photography, please visit:, Twitter: @writer_faith, and Instagram: @frompromisingtopublished99.
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Why I Love the Libby App

Thursday, April 04, 2024

When my kids were younger, I used to frequent the library almost weekly, even more during the months of June, July, and August when the summer reading programs were in full swing. During the height of the pandemic, my visits came to a screeching halt. I was focused on keeping my job as a magazine editor and trying to launch a podcast. I knew there was an app called OverDrive that was supposed to allow you to check out books from the library digitally on your Kindle, but I found it clunky and difficult to use. Around 2022 I discovered the Libby app, which is owned by OverDrive but much more user-friendly. All I had to do was download the app to my phone, find my local library, enter in my current library card number, and voila, I was connected to so many resources I didn’t know what to do with them at first.

Through the Libby app I’ve been able to request and read books, magazines, and audiobooks, all for free! What’s even better is that I can “send” books directly to my Kindle for easier reading. I manage all my loans in the app, and if I request a book, and it comes in while I’m still reading another one or know I won’t get to it quickly enough, I can request the book be sent to the next person in line without losing my own place. The book will usually come back to me within 10 days, if not sooner. Last year I participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge, and the majority of my books came from my access to the Libby app. I read books like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, In Five Years by Rebecca Serle, Matthew Perry’s autobiography Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, The Rewind by Allison Winn Scotch, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg, The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah, Yellowface by R.F. Kuang, and much more. 

Through the audiobook feature, I listened to Hello Sunshine by Laura Dave, I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jeanette McCurdy, and Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister. I learned that I don’t love listening to books on audio—I feel like I can read faster than I can listen and with the Gillian McAllister novel, which was told in reverse, I found myself very confused and wishing I could flip back and forth in a physical book. I’ve shared my love of the app with so many friends who didn’t knew it existed and they are having a blast exploring the titles available. The only downside I’ve found is that occasionally I will request three or four books at the same time, all with drastically different wait times, and they will all become available within three or four days of one another. #booknerd problems, right? That’s why I love the “pause my hold” feature as it gives me time to finish a current book before starting another. 

I’ve just finished The Women by Kristin Hannah and am about to start The Christie Affair, a historical work of fiction featuring the life of Agatha Christie by Nine de Gramont. I recently joined my neighborhood book club and was able to request our May book through the app. Now if I could only find the time to write reviews for all these fantastic books . . . 

Have you been able to try the Libby app? What do you like or not like about it? 

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer who also produces the weekly true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas.
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Interview With Fall 2023 Flash Fiction Runner Up Winner, Elizabeth Danek

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Today, I'm honored to interview Elizabeth Danek, a runner-up in our Fall 2023 Flash Fiction contest. Before you read our chat together, make sure you check out her story, December 1994. Then, come on back!

Here's a bit about Elizabeth Danek:

Elizabeth Danek’s short fiction and essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Mid-American Review, and Flash Nonfiction Food, as well performed for the Liar’s League PDX. Recently, she placed 3rd in the 2023 William Faulkner Literary Competition with her short story “The Pet Shop.” For more than thirty years, Elizabeth has been a high school and adult education teacher in Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon and Munich, Germany (where she lived during the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s). She will soon retire from teaching, ready to pay more attention to her grandchildren, writing, travels, and urban hikes. Currently, she is working on a novella and a story collection.

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: Congratulations on winning runner up! Why were you inspired to write the story?

Elizabeth: From 1989 to 1998, I lived in Munich, Germany, and watched up close the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Balkan Crisis. One summer, on a visit to Dalmatia, one of my sons was “gifted” a large piece of shrapnel from an attack outside Zadar – a memento of the war.

My father was from Croatia and escaped from the former Yugoslavia after WWII. He believed that armed conflict changes hearts and minds forever, and that brutality devastates families, as it did for him in the 1940s and then again fifty years later.

The convergence of the shrapnel and my father’s history created “December 1994,” (part of a longer piece in progress), in addition to my own experiences with family caught in the turmoil and visits to Croatia over the decade I lived in Europe. I also know many Bosnian refugees who were resettled in Portland, where I now live; their stories are haunting. Turmoil in the world today reminds me of the near past.

WOW: That's amazing you have that kind of connection to that incredible piece of history. You have some impressive publications under your belt. What inspires you about short fiction?

Elizabeth: I have always found short fiction artful, drawn into a new world with so few strokes. Admittedly, as a young mother and full-time teacher, I struggled with focus, frustrated when I lost the thread of a longer work. So I remain loyal to short fiction and let those whose work I love surround me: Katherine Mansfield, Alice Munro, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, Alice Walker, Elizabeth Strout, Kelly Link and countless others. I don’t always know how they do what they do, really, but I admire their work and find their stories instructive and beautiful.

WOW: As a short fiction writer myself, I know what you mean. I see you’re working on a short fiction collection. As a short story writer, that’s my goal one day too. How are you compiling your stories? Do you have a method? 

Elizabeth: I find that place is prominent in my work. I have to know my characters and where they’re from or what brought them to this point in conflict. My collection centers around San Pedro, California, the L.A. Harbor town where I grew up. The stories are an ode to the coast, the diversity of the people, and my characters’ challenges.

WOW: I think it's interesting how place means so much in your work. How has teaching guided your writing?

Elizabeth: For me, writing is rewriting. Young students can’t always see that, but some do, and they appreciate going the extra mile. I know what it is to struggle with a piece, to write draft after draft to try to get something right. 

WOW: Absolutely! What do you hope people gain by reading your work, and specifically this story “December 1994”?

Elizabeth: I hope that my fiction can bring readers to feel something relatable and perhaps find some “truth” along the way.

WOW: I believe you have! Thank you again for your time today. Best of luck on your work!
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Ask the Book Doctor: About Formatting a Manuscript

Monday, April 01, 2024

By Bobbie Christmas

Q: How important is the format of my manuscript? If I don’t follow standard manuscript format, can my book get rejected?

A: I can’t speak for every agent and publisher in the world. I can, however, address some of the things that are standard in the industry. If you have any hope of landing an agent or selling your book to a traditional publisher, the format of your manuscript could possibly stand in the way if it doesn’t follow standard manuscript format—SMF. It’s hard enough to land an agent or find a publisher willing to buy your manuscript, so it’s important to show your professionalism by following the standards in the book publishing industry.

When you go for a job interview, the person who interviews you will make a few snap decisions based on how you present yourself. Are you dressed and groomed in a professional manner, or is your hair in disarray and your clothes raggedy? Agents and publishers are likely to make the same snap decisions about a manuscript. In SMF a manuscript looks professional and reflects well on the author, as it should.

If you plan to self-publish, perhaps your manuscript format won’t matter, but I’ll address that issue in a minute. First let’s discuss the settings in SMF.

Microsoft Word is the standard word-processing program for manuscripts, although Pages in Mac is often accepted. Don’t bother with Google Docs or other programs that are set up to design the book layout while you write. While you write your draft you need only to write, not design.

Before you start typing, go to Home in Word and choose twelve-point Times New Roman for the font. Next ensure the document is aligned flush left, not justified. Next check 2.0 for the spacing and check Remove Space After Paragraph. There are several ways to set up an automatic indent for new paragraphs. I select all and then move the top triangle on the ruler at the top of the page so that new paragraphs always automatically indent five spaces. You will have to click on the top of the page to add a header with your name, your manuscript title, and automatic page numbering, and that’s it. You can then click back on the body of the page and type your story, and Microsoft Word will format your manuscript correctly.

Don’t get confused. Manuscript format and book layout are separate operations. After a manuscript is written, revised, and professionally edited, and after a publisher buys a manuscript, the publisher will layout and design the book.

On the other hand, if you plan to self-publish you may not need to concern yourself with double-spacing or font type or size, because you or your layout person may be able to work with any format your original document uses. Nevertheless, the book layout is done after the manuscript is complete and not while the manuscript is being written.

Finding an agent or a publisher is tough. Following SMF tells those folks that you are knowledgeable about publishing industry standards. It makes you look professional, so it’s worth a little trouble to set up before you ever start writing.

Q: I keep having formatting issues when I'm writing my book in Word. What software do you recommend? Google Docs?

A: If the manuscript is set up correctly in Word, there should be no formatting issues. Perhaps you are trying to layout the manuscript like a book while you are still writing. Layout should be managed only after the writing and editing are complete. Use Word; the standard in the industry. Later you can learn a good layout program or let a professional person layout the book if you intend to self-publish, but don't let format get in the way of the first writing. Doing so will thwart your creativity.

Q: I have seen books where long quotes were indented on both sides instead of using quotation marks. How can I do this in Word?

A: First, the quote must be at least five lines long once indented. Don’t use the Tab key or the space bar to perform this operation. If the quote is long, highlight it. Go up to the ruler and put your cursor on the triangle for the left margin. Move it five spaces to the right. Put your cursor on the triangle on the right and move it to the left five spaces. Your long quote will then be indented. You may have to return the triangles to their previous positions to return to the original formatting.


Bobbie Christmas is a book editor, author of Write In Style: Use Your Computer to Improve Your Writing, and owner of Zebra Communications. She will answer your questions too. Send them to or Read Bobbie’s Zebra Communications blog at
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Interview with Anne Walsh Donnelly, Runner Up in the WOW! Q1 2024 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest

Sunday, March 31, 2024


Anne Walsh Donnelly lives in the west of Ireland, writes prose, poetry and plays and loves to experiment with form in her writing. She dares to be different. Anne is the author of the poetic memoir The Woman with an Owl Tattoo, which tells the story of her coming out journey in mid-life and the poetry collection, Odd as F*ck. Her fragmentary novella, He Used To Be Me, was published by New Island Books in February and can be ordered from the New Island website by clicking here or on Amazon. Anne is currently working towards her first personal essay collection. 
Facebook: AnneWalshDonnelly 
Instagram: annewalshdonnellypoetry 
X: @AnneWDonnelly 

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

WOW: Congratulations on placing as a runner up, and welcome! What was the writing process like for “A Marriage in Metaphors?” How did you decide which objects (a painting, a jackhammer, a cow) to use to help express the different stages of your relationship? 

Anne: A few months ago I was finding it hard to motivate myself to sit down and write so I thought I’d experiment a bit. I went back to some of my old poems to see if I could use one of them as a starting point for an essay. I had a poem about a Botticelli painting (Venus and Mars), a poem about a jackhammer and one about a cow. So I got the idea of using each of those metaphors for different stages of my marriage. It was an experiment, I didn’t know if it worked and when I had written it, I thought to myself, well this is either brilliant or rubbish. I was delighted to learn that your judges didn’t think it was rubbish! 

WOW: It turned out to be a brilliant concept! You have had great success placing in the top ten in this particular contest. What tips do you have for other writers hoping to break into the creative nonfiction market? 

Anne: The biggest thing is to take the risk, put words on the page and experiment and see what comes out of it. Write your own truth your way and not what you think you should write. Use the skills you have learned in your other writing, whether it’s poetry or fiction, or even plays in your nonfiction. Imagery, metaphors, sensual and lyrical writing are just as important when writing creative nonfiction as they are in poetry or fiction. All of us have stories to tell, the trick is to write them in a way that will resonate with the reader. Write the first draft for yourself, get all the messiness and gore and rawness out on the page, let it settle for a day or too or longer and then go back and re write and edit with the reader in mind. Don’t’ censure yourself or tell yourself you shouldn’t be writing about your life. When I started writing personal essays I used to think that it was a bit narcissistic to be writing about my life but then I realised that I could use my personal experience to explore universal themes and somehow that felt less narcissistic. 

WOW: That's a great point--highlighting different aspects of the human experience through writing isn't narcissistic, in fact, you never know who it might help! Can you tell us more about your novella, “He Used to Be Me?” It sounds like a fascinating piece of work.
Anne: Yes, it’s definitely fascinating! I explore the complex workings of the inner life of a character who lives on the fringe of his community, in lyrical and fragmentary prose . The character is a man called Daft Matt who wanders the streets of a town in the west of Ireland looking for the claws of jackdaws. They’ve been speaking to him since he was a boy. I’ve written it in the first person point of view so Matt tells us his story in his man-child voice. The book takes us from his childhood losses to the carefree days of early manhood to the aftermath of a horse riding accident which sees him incarcerated in the care system for over 30 years. He’s a character that represents those marginalised figures that every town has, who roam the streets for so long that they are no longer noticed and their stories remain untold. 

WOW: As an accomplished poet, is it difficult for you to switch gears and write in the creative nonfiction genre? 

Anne: Surprisingly not. They both complement each other. A lot of my poems are what some would call ‘confessional poems.’ I explore my personal experience in them using imagery, similes, metaphors, rhythm and sensory language. I do the same in my personal essays. Some of the topics I write about suit the personal essay genre better than the poetry. The personal essay gives you more space when writing. 

WOW: Do you have any fun writing rituals you can share with our readers? 

Anne: Sometimes two of my writing buddies and I blow bubbles! I think it’s important not to take yourself too seriously in life or in your writing though sometimes I struggle with that, so a good bubble blowing session helps me reconnect with the child in me and the fun in life.

WOW: I love that! You are right that sometimes we writers take ourselves too seriously and let the cycle of submissions and rejections affect us more than it should. Thank you again for being here today!
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Friday Speak Out!: Seeds of Truth in Fiction

Friday, March 29, 2024
By Mary Fleming

People often ask me: “Where do you get your ideas?”

They generally express this question with wonderment, as if I must have lived a wildly adventurous life. Or as if they see me sitting down at my desk, picking up a pen or opening the computer and Bang, the plot and the characters strike like a bolt from heaven and out flows a novel.

If only.

I collect the seeds for my fiction from real life. Either things my friends have experienced or a story I read in the news. When the story sticks with me, it starts to take root in my brain, and I know I have a possible short story or novel. Then plot and characters begin to grow and take shape. By the end the seed has developed into something quite different from the origin story.

My first novel, Someone Else, for example, is the story of an American woman with the perfect Paris life: a literary editor married to a French architect with four children. But as a university student, she’d run away from a crime of arson and left the perpetrator to take all the blame. When he comes to Paris, the perfect life unravels. The idea came from Katherine Ann Power, a 60’s radical who escaped arrest as an accomplice to a fatal bank robbery in 1970. She changed her name and built a perfect Oregon life as a wife, mother and cook. After 23 years of secrecy and lies, she turned herself in.

In my story there were no deaths, no going underground, no new identities and the truth came out against the character’s will. It was the idea of being haunted by past deeds and secrets that appealed to me.

The seed for my second novel, The Art of Regret, came from a friend’s childhood trauma. Her father committed suicide when she was 15. Afterwards, it was never discussed with her mother or sister. That unspoken but defining experience had made her an edgy young person, like my main character (a man). Redemption is achieved by both the real and the fictional person through love, connecting intensely with another human being.

The idea for Civilisation Française came from reading about an empty old mansion on the place des Vosges that was being squatted in 2009-10. I moved the story to the early 1980s, when I first arrived in Paris, and plopped my two main characters plus a housekeeper into a few of its rooms and took the story from there.

In all three cases, the real-life stories took root in my creative mind because they illustrated themes that are important to me: how the past overshadows the present, what is the definition of home, the difficulties of connecting with other people.

If you want to know what to write about, you don’t need to look very far. Just listen to friends or open a newspaper.

* * *

Mary Fleming’s new novel, CIVILISATION FRANÇAISE , comes out from Heliotrope Books in July. She was born in Chicago and has lived in France for many years. After working as a journalist and consultant, she turned to fiction and has written two other novels, Someone Else and The Art of Regret. Her bi-weekly photo-essay, A Paris-Perche Diary, tracks city and country (Normandy) life. Find her online at website: Mary Fleming Author, blog: A Paris Perche Diary, and Instagram: @flemingm6

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

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Fake It 'til Make It

Thursday, March 28, 2024

"Fake it 'til you make it!"

That is the motto of a close friend of mine and, considering they started a successful business in their 20s, I'm happy to take it.

Too often I find myself worrying that I can't write well enough, don't know enough about a topic or am competing against scads of people who are just better at this writing game than I am. But then I have to give myself the "Fake it 'til you make it" pep talk.

I think the problem is that I am basically a shy person who tends to downplay myself and my experiences. I continually need to remind myself that if I don't believe in myself, why would anyone else?

The first editor to accept my writing to include in a book had no idea that I had never been in an book OR written about baseball before. My baseball experience began and ended with attending Little League games and rooting for the Phillies whenever they made it to the playoffs. But in the end the editor loved my piece so much that he invited me to pitch for other - non-baseball related - books.

My students in my first writing class had no idea that normally my classes involved multiplication tables and conjunctions (during my stint as a elementary school substitute teacher). But that first class led to additional workshops and talks.

My first advertising client had no idea that just the week before I was dong something very different. They just placed their month long advertising campaign in my hands. A year later some of my advertising work was submitted for an award. I didn't win but hey, it's an honor just to be nominated.

As writers, we're the first line. We have to believe in ourselves if we want anyone else to believe in us. Confidence in my writing abilities had made amazing things happen for me. I've contacted authors, organizations, destinations with requests for an interview, tour, vintage photo and they've happily agreed. Every time I'm amazed all over again that they would agree to do this for me! I tend to gloss over the fact that we're working together - that they're getting something too (publicity for their business, a chance to tell their story, a new connection).

Writers have to exude confidence in interviews, pitch meetings, networking events. Everything about us has to say "I can do this!" Even though there's a part of you that's whispering, "Can I do this?"

Yes, it's difficult. But do it. Believe in yourself! And store up all those amazing things that happened just because you took a chance. You can use them in your pep talk if you're ever feeling down.

What was the last amazing thing to happen in your writing career just because you asked?

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 or Words by Webb.

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Finding My “Northern” Tribe

Wednesday, March 27, 2024
I wrote a few weeks ago about my experience at the AWP conference, held in Kansas City this past February. While there, I had an opportunity to join an editor at a signing table for an anthology in which one of my essays—taken from my memoir draft—is included. 

Awakenings: Stories of Body & Consciousness was published in October 2023. Several months before publication, editor Diane Gottlieb encouraged all 49 writers in the anthology—spread across the U.S. and around the world—to team up whenever and wherever possible in promoting the book before and after publication. 

To help in this collaboration effort, Diane compiled and shared a list of accepted contributors’ emails (after securing permission), along with a list of states and countries in which we lived. Within days, I got an email from a fellow writer who lives only a 15-minute drive from me in southern New Hampshire. Sandell also copied in two anthology writers, Nina and Kim, who ironically live in the same town an hour-and-a-half north of us in Maine. 

We agreed to meet on Zoom and brainstorm promotion ideas. Publication, at that point, was four months away. While on our first of many Zoom calls, we dubbed ourselves the “Awakenings: Northern New England Team.” As we tossed ideas around, we noted them in a Google Doc and color-coded each promotional idea or outreach responsibility by author name. This made it easier to keep our small team updated on progress, by glancing at line items that we marked in Orange (not started), Yellow (in progress), Green (completed or confirmed), or Red (denied or not possible). 

Among the “wins” we racked up: 

  • A team post, published on the Brevity Blog 
  • A podcast interview that combined our discussion of the anthology with how it tied into the movie “Goodnight to You, Leo Grande” (starring the tremendously talented Emma Thompson, where she examines her own body self-esteem) 
  • A second podcast, focused on true stories read by writers who lived them 
  • A literary salon reading 
  • A feature interview in the much loved WOW! “Markets” newsletter 

We also landed a bookstore reading that finally took place six months after securing the spot. Yep, this is why planning book promotions months in advance is essential!

Image: Ann Kathryn Kelly 

On a windy night in early March, Sandell and I carpooled from coastal Portsmouth, New Hampshire to meet Nina and Kim, who traveled from their small town to Portland, Maine. After enjoying an early dinner together, we walked a few blocks to Print: A Bookstore where we each read a five-minute excerpt of our pieces, before taking questions from the audience.

While walking back to our cars and feeling energized after the event, we wondered if we could pull together another audience reading sometime in the coming months. A day later, Nina—being the rock star she is—had already secured our second in-person event! Our Northern New England quartet is scheduled to read at a library in Brunswick, Maine, six weeks from now. 


I’m enjoying the camaraderie with these enthusiastic and talented writers, and it’s energizing to see our group tick off actionable promotion ideas on our Google Doc. As enjoyable as the reading was at Print Bookstore, I value even more the time I spent getting to know them during our Zoom calls and especially at dinner in Portland a few weeks ago. 

Onward, to our next event in May! 

Ann Kathryn Kelly writes from New Hampshire’s Seacoast region.

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