Do you want to know a secret?
The best writing is personal.
What goes on between a writer who gets personal and the reader is like an intimate friendship, where you exchange secrets, share emotions, and feel your friendship growing. It comes from somewhere inside, a certain vulnerability that you expose on the page. Once you learn how to write this way, you can apply it to any genre and achieve success.
I was talking to a writer friend the other day who shared a personal breakthrough with me. She was having a block in fiction, so she decided to focus on her nonfiction freelance career. She hobbled along writing short articles for content sites and blogging occasionally until she decided to take a workshop on personal essay writing. Her instructor suggested she journal throughout the course as a way of forming story ideas. A couple weeks into journaling, she broke down and sobbed. She realized that all this time she'd been unable to tap into her emotions. It was the reason why she'd been unable to write anything other than school-taught structured pieces that lacked any sort of creative oomph. No, she didn't unearth some big secret from childhood or recover repressed memories, but she did have an epiphany the equivalent of a literary breakthrough. She learned how to spill her guts on the page, and then edit them into print. Since then, she's used this skill for copywriting, personal essay writing, article writing, and even fiction. And this is in the past month! Her writing and confidence level improved tenfold.
Personal writing can help you, too. It's an avenue of writing that never gets old and never fails to reward. It's about you. Like Jung said, "That which is most personal is most common." By learning to write about yourself and what's uniquely you, you are growing as a person and helping others relate to you at the same time.
But how do you do that? We have experts to help you! In this issue we explore journaling, from the history of journal writing to journaling for health and happiness. One of our Twitter followers asked us if we had an article on writing to help women deal with traumatic experiences; and at the time, we didn't, but now we do! We asked journal-writing expert Mari McCarthy to write about that topic specifically for our Twitter friend. We also explore forms of memoir writing in depth, from personal essay writing and writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul to beginning your memoir and creating your narrative arc to bringing people in your memoir to life. When you finish reading this issue, you'll have the tools and techniques to get started producing pieces that are true, real, personal, and ultimately satisfying.
Let's bring back the passion and love of writing! Let's get personal.
Continue reading on the Editor's Desk...
Please take a moment to visit our sponsors:
If you enjoy the free content on the WOW! site, please help support our efforts by visiting our sponsors and seeing what they have to offer. We handpick sponsors that we think will be of interest to WOW! readers. There are some fantastic offers this issue.
Highlights Foundation Founders Workshops: Retreat and Reach Your Writing Goals!
Our targeted workshops allow you to choose the topic that exactly meets your writing needs. From sports to nature, from magazines to books, from fiction to nonfiction, and from picture books to young-adult novels--Founders Workshops give you access to publishing professionals known for their ability to help writers reach their goals.
Whether you want to spend a long weekend immersed in a topic, retreat for a week to finish your novel, or dive into an intense week-long retreat guided by award-winning authors, we have the perfect workshop for you.
Check out our upcoming 2011 Founders Workshops: http://www.highlightsfoundation.org/
Write a Marketable Childrens Book in Seven Weeks
Do you have a great idea for a children's book, but aren't sure how to get started? Our week-by-week guide is for busy people like you. It's easy to understand, easy to follow and beginner friendly. Learn how to plot, revise, and submit to an editor.
Get Started and Succeed!
We help you look brilliant!
Editing, fact-checking, research, transcription, layout, publishing/self-publishing help, and conversion for Kindle, iPad, Nook. Bookmark Services is a full-service editorial services company, in business in the Berkshires (but serving the world!) for 15 years. Let's get started!
See what we have to offer: http://bookmarkservices.net/services/
Free Webinars for Writers
Did you miss the recent webinar with Tom Bird and The King of Social Media David Steel, "Social Media: How to Add Tens of Thousands to Your List This Year"? Don't worry, you can still download it on Tom's Free Page. Plus, there's a lot more free webinars available for download: Live from the 5 Day Retreat, How to Get Over Writer's Block for Good, Creating Your Pitch to the Media, The Publish Now Program, and more.
Download your FREE webinars here: http://www.writeyourbookin8days.com/FreeClassesAndAudio.html
The Strongest Start Novel Competition 2011
Over $2,200 in Prizes for the Best Opening Chapters. Enter a writing competition to see who can craft the most compelling start to a novel. Whether you write Romance, Science Fiction, Humor, Non-fiction, or some other genre, the only criteria is that you write a start that will keep us reading.
Deadline: June 8, 2011. Enter today: http://www.thenextbigwriter.com/
Contests from FanStory
Share your writing, get helpful feedback, and enter a writing contest. Over 50 writing contests to choose from. Get feedback for everything you post including your contest entries.
List of Open Contests: http://www.fanstory.com/
Dream Quest One Poetry and Writing Contest
Write a poem, 30 lines or fewer on any subject, or a short story, 5 pages max, any theme, for a chance to win up to $500 in cash prizes.
Deadline: July 31, 2011. Enter today: http://www.dreamquestone.com/
Thank you for visiting our sponsors!
If you'd like to be featured in this section, please contact us about our special advertising rates and discounts. You can also view our media kit here.
Spring 2011 Flash Fiction Contest
DEADLINE: May 31, 2011 Midnight,
GUEST JUDGE: Literary Agent, Sarah Lapolla
About Sarah: Sarah Lapolla began at Curtis Brown in 2008, working with Dave Barbor and Peter Ginsberg. Sarah is interested in literary fiction, narrative nonfiction, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, science fiction, literary horror, and young adult fiction. She loves complex characters, coming-of-age stories, and strong narrators. Sarah graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Writing and English, and went on to receive her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. She is always on the lookout for debut authors and welcomes email submissions.
To find out more about Sarah, read her 20 Questions interview on WOW!. To learn more about Curtis Brown, Ltd. please visit www.curtisbrown.com.
PROMPT: Open Prompt
WORD COUNT: 750 Max; 250 Min
LIMIT: 300 Entries
Don't wait until the last minute! Enter
Today. Visit the Contest
Page and download our terms &
conditions ebook. Good luck!
Announcements, Calls for Submissions
To Winter '11 Contestants: We are in final judging and awaiting results from our guest judge for the season. We will be contacting Top 10 winners before the end of the month to request pics and bios. Official contest results will be announced at the beginning of May on this page. Please check back for results.
Call for Queries: Girls Just Want to Have Fun...Writing!: Do you enjoy your writing life? What do you love about it? What brings you joy that you can teach others? We want to bring the fun back into writing! Ideas include: "The Girl's Guide to..."; interviews with popular chicklit authors; interviews with editors of women-focused magazines; and...? This theme is open to interpretation, and we can't wait to hear your ideas.
Also, if you queried us in the past and it didn't fit with our themes, we may have held your query until we found an appropriate issue. We'll be looking through the past queries we have on file to see if any fit with the theme above.
Deadline for queries: April 18, 2011
Publication date: End of May/Beginning of June 2011
Submission Guidelines: Please review our submission guidelines on our Contact Page (scroll to the bottom under "Submissions") for guidelines and how to submit. Pay rate is $50 - $150 per article. We look forward to hearing from you!
On to the issue... Enjoy!
Strip and Go Naked with Adair Lara: Baring the Soul of the Personal Essay
By LuAnn Schindler
Award-winning author and writing coach Adair Lara dares writers to shed their inhibitions. Then, Lara says, writers can construct a personal essay that gets to the very essence of the piece: the shared bond of humanity offering a confession that unites us all. Her latest book, Naked, Drunk, and Writing, pours through years of first-hand experience as an editor, writer, and writing coach and offers practical advice and exercises to spur writers through writing, revising, and publishing.
Join WOW! columnist LuAnn Schindler and Adair Lara in an intimate conversation about personal essay writing. Discover an effective outlining exercise, where you fill in the blanks to create the structure of your essay, and some creative revision techniques you can put to use right away. Plus, LuAnn serves as our literary bartender, getting us sauced with her punch-drunk prose. Cheers!
People are Characters Too: A Guide for Bringing the People in Your Memoir to Life
By Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett
Too often, memoir writers think characters and character development are for fiction writers. After all, they are writing about real stories and don't need to worry about describing the people. But quite the opposite is true. Memoir, perhaps even more than fiction, needs well-etched people.
To help you write about people your readers will care about, Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett explore five dimensions of character--identity, description, demographic factors, psychographic attributes, and personality. By the time you complete the exercises in this article, you will have described one person in full.
When they say "guide" in the title, they're not kidding! This article is jam-packed with exercises and approaches to character development that can be used for both memoir and fiction writers alike. This is an article you'll want to bookmark and spend some time with!
Coming Soon... Robyn Chausse's Official Review of the Tom Bird Retreat
In the meantime, check out these posts!
Speaking of blogging, if you're a fan of The Muffin, then you know that WOW! blogger Robyn Chausse has embarked on a journey of personal discovery to find her inner author by attending the Tom Bird Retreat. Her blog posts, in diary format, sew a cohesive thread throughout her retreat experience, and bring you, the reader, along for the ride. She's working on a formal review of Tom Bird's Write Your Book in 5 Days retreat, which will be posted in our Review column and includes interviews with retreat attendees, but in the meantime, check out her blog posts below. We'll send out an email when the review is published.
Finding My Inner Author: The Tom Bird Retreat Saga By Robyn Chausse
Preparing for the Tom Bird Retreat:
My Experience at a Tom Bird Retreat:
Arrival in Sedona
Class has Begun
Finding My Novel
A Novel is Born
PLEASE CHECK BACK AT THIS LINK FOR THE OFFICIAL REVIEW>>
WOW! Women On Writing Workshops & Classes
invest in yourself, write now
Whether you are looking to boost your income
or work on your craft, we know that education
is an important part of a writer's career.
That's why WOW! handpicks qualified
instructors and targeted classes that women
writers will benefit from. The instructors
are women we've worked with on a professional
level, and these ladies offer high quality
courses on various topics.
How the courses work: All of the
courses operate online--whether through
email, website, chat room, or listserv,
depending on the instructor's
preferences--and are taught one-on-one with
the instructor. The flexibility of the
platform allows students to complete
assignments on their own time and work at
their own pace in the comfort of their own
home. It's a wonderful experience and an
excellent way to further develop your skills,
or to try your hand at something completely new.
Featured e-Courses (By Date):
April 13, 2011
SOCIAL NETWORKING FOR WRITERS: TWITTER, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN AND MORE! by Margo L. Dill
This class will teach writers how to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites such as Shelfari or Jacket Flap (students' choice) to network; to build a following of fans; to start working on a brand/image; and to promote books, articles, magazines, and blogs.
April 25, 2011
THE GATEKEEPERS: ALL ABOUT AGENTS AND EDITORS by Andrea Campbell
In order to succeed in this industry, you, the writer, must know it intimately from all sides. By the end of this class you'll learn how the publishing industry works, how to know and define your product, how to get an agent or editor (queries, synopsis, business letters, and book proposals), and how to be a valuable client.
May 2, 2011
SHORT FICTION WRITING by Gila Green
Through writing exercises and classmate and instructor feedback we will delve into the fundamentals of short fiction with a view to publishable work. We will explore a variety of craft elements including: character, plot, point of view, description, dialogue, setting, pacing, voice and theme.
SEE YOU AT THE MOVIES: An Introduction to the Craft of Screenwriting by Christina Hamlett
Learn the techniques and formatting requirements to develop an original screenplay. Study character development, dialogue, genre, structure, pacing, budget, and marketability, and receive critiques from an expert!
ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE: An Introduction to Playwriting by Christina Hamlett
Learn what makes a play successful and how to write one yourself. Write a 15-minute one-act play, which will be professionally critiqued.
May 11, 2011
FINDING EXPERTS AND INTERVIEWING THEM by Jodi Webb
Are you intimidated by the idea of interviewing an expert for your article? Do you need help finding knowledgeable sources? Do you want the opportunity to polish your interviewing skills? This class will help you track down experts, contact them, and conduct a successful interview.
BRING OUT THE STORY-TELLER IN YOU by Karlyn Thayer
This class teaches story-writing from the idea of thinking before writing. Emphasizes correct story structure. Topics covered include: the value of an outline or synopsis; bringing characters to life; building a plot; viewpoint and mechanics; and keeping the action and conflict going.
WRITING A MIDDLE-GRADE NOVEL by Margo L. Dill
Learn what makes a novel middle-grade and brainstorm different ideas for this age group. The instructor will lead students through pre-writing exercises and help students write their first two chapters with plenty of feedback on ways to revise and edit their work. When the class is over, students will be well on their way to completing a middle-grade novel.
May 23, 2011
WRITING FOR CHILDREN: Everything You Need to Know About Short Stories, Articles, and Fillers by Margo Dill
This class will teach the basics of writing for children's magazines, crafting short stories, nonfiction articles, poetry, and fillers. The student will come away with a short story and cover letter, nonfiction query letter, and a filler or poem. She will also have a list of potential markets, fitting her manuscripts. The instructor will also share an organizational tool for submissions and information on finding other children's writers and networking.
May 25, 2011
THE UNWILLING GRAMMARIAN by Karlyn Thayer
Do you hate grammar like you hate snakes? This class takes an easy and fun approach to grammar. Other grammar courses require students to learn dozens of complicated terms. This course begins by asking you to learn two terms only, and shows you how those two terms can be the key to writing success.
May 31, 2011
INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING: The Definitive Course On Achieving Self-Publishing Excellence and Profitability NEW! by Deana Riddle
In the past, writers let trade publishers decide what readers want. Today, a growing number of writers are now publishing their own works and letting readers decide for themselves. If you have decided to independently publish, this comprehensive 6-week course is going to show you exactly what you need to do, and exactly how to do it.
June 6, 2011
EMPOWER YOUR MUSE, EMPOWER YOUR WRITING SELF by Kelly L. Stone
Learn methods for overcoming a variety of issues facing all writers, including lack of self confidence, lack of follow through, resistance to writing, avoidance of writing, and discouragement. Includes free critique up to 25 pages or a 15 minute one-on-one phone consultation on any topic related to writing.
June 10, 2011
INTRO TO BOOK REVIEWING: Turn a Love of Reading into a Rewarding Sideline by Norah Piehl
Learn the elements of great book reviews, explore the wide market for book review writing, from traditional newspaper book pages to online blogs.
you are as excited about our classes
as we are. WOW! Women On Writing
ensures that our instructors will work with
you one-on-one. In most cases you will
receive emailed course materials and
assignments, or for those with groups, you
will be able to download course materials.
Your instructor will give you assignments and
personal feedback, and guide you through a
charted course of learning. Our instructors
are wonderful ladies who go above and beyond
to help you achieve your writing goals.
VISIT THE CLASSROOM PAGE FOR COMPLETE COURSE DESCRIPTIONS>>
WOW! BLOG: THE MUFFIN
Find out the latest from the Bakers of WOW!
Have you checked out what we've been baking
for you on the daily Muffin? We've stirred
together some traditional ingredients with
new ones to deliver more interviews,
enlightenment, thought provoking ideas, and
inspirational messages to help you through
those gray writing days.
Never Stale! Here's the Latest:
Tuesdays are contest interview
If you are interested in
writing for our contests, check out the
interviews with previous Top 10 winners to
find out how they crafted their stories.
Summer 2010 Flash Fiction Runner Up: Mary Krakow
Interview by Jill Earl
Fall 2010 Flash Fiction First Place Winner: Cynthia Larsen
Interview by Marcia Peterson
Fall 2010 Flash Fiction Second Place Winner: Lisa Daly
Interview by LuAnn Schindler
Fall 2010 Flash Fiction Third Place Winner: Linda Lisa McGrew
Interview by Anne Greenawalt
Fall 2010 Flash Fiction Runner Up: Kelly Stone Gamble
Interview by Marcia Peterson
Blog Posts of Interest:
Letters from Home by Kristina McMorris, Blog Tour and Book Giveaway!
Interview by Robyn Chausse
Inspired by the true story of her own grandparents' courtship during World War II, Kristina captures the heartache and sacrifice of love and war in Letters from Home, an award-winning debut novel that is timeless, tender and unforgettably moving. Join us for an interview with Kristina, and learn about her research process, what surprised her about the process of writing and publishing a novel, and what to do when someone offers literary critique.
The Literary Ladies' Guide to the Writing Life by Nava Atlas, Blog Tour & Book Giveaway!
Interview by Jodi Webb
The Literary Ladies' Guide to the Writing Life is the most inspirational writing book we've read in a while! In our interview with Nava, she talks about how she chose the twelve women she features in the book, genre-hopping from bestselling cookbook author to humor writer to visual nonfiction author and the struggles she faces, and shares quite a lot about the publishing journey for this particular book. It's a wonderful interview you won't want to miss.
The Fight for a Free and Open Internet
By Robyn Chausse
What if you booted up one day only to find that your provider was no longer allowing access to the sites you needed? What if all the information you found was one-sided? What if you suddenly found that you only had access to the "Public Internet" or the "Family Tier" and that the "Business Tier" would cost extra? Unlike radio or television, the Internet has been our source for uncensored, equally available information--and there is a battle going on to maintain the status quo. Find out more about the fight for a free and open internet and what you can do.
Why Entering Contests Boosts Writing
By LuAnn Schindler
Entering a writing contest may be a big step for a writer, but it's an action that will enhance your writing. LuAnn shares four important lessons learned from entering contests.
The $#*%! Language in Children's Books
By Margo Dill
Why are there cuss words in children's books? Every time there is one, someone has to complain about it or even try to ban the book. Do we think kids aren't exposed to these words in their everyday lives? Of course, we know they are. But there's something about reading them that just really gets people going.
Vacation With Your Writer-Radar On
By Jodi Webb
A writer uses her travel to get a new viewpoint on issues, meet some new people, and learn about some new issues. Find out how she came home with not only with a mound of dirty laundry, but ideas for several stories and sources. An inspirational post!
Remaining Truly You (A Casual and Unofficial Poll)
By Robyn Chausse
When you are writing your novel (or creating your painting, sculpture, etc.) do you refrain from exposing yourself to other similar works? Do you find that exposure to another writer's voice hinders or obstructs your own true expression or does it inspire? See how other writers responded to these questions, and share your thoughts too!
Audience, Audience, Who is my Audience?
By Elizabeth King Humphrey
As writers, ultimately, when we sit down to write, who are we serving? Ourselves or our readers? A writer ponders the importance of an author's audience.
An Interview with Jodi Webb, Freelance Writer and WOW! Team Member
By Margo Dill
Join us as Jodi Webb shares her experience on freelance writing, offering tips and lots of inspiration! Learn how a writer should prepare herself to enter the freelance marketplace, what to do if you don't have any clips, how writing fillers for magazines can help your freelance career and some terrific motivational tips. Don't miss this helpful and fun interview.
Book Review Tips for Self-Published Authors
By LuAnn Schindler
Published authors depend on book reviews. Let's face it: a favorable helps sell books. A positive endorsement makes great promotional material. But, in an ever-growing, ever-crowded self-publishing world, how can DIY authors land an encouraging review from a reputable publication or site without shelling out big bucks to GET a review?
Middle Grade Novel Characters for Enthusiastic Readers
By Margo Dill
An author discusses the reasons why middle grade novels are so much fun, and offers great tips for middle grade novel writers. Share some of your favorite middle grade characters too!
Naming Your Characters
By Jodi Webb
Choosing a name is just as tough for your fictional family. Maybe more so because fictional characters can't demand to be called by a nickname when they realize just how horrendous the name you've picked out is. Jodi Webb shares a few of her husband's baby name rules, adapted for the world of fiction. Helpful tips!
The Challenging Month of April
By Jill Earl
If you're looking for a way to develop or sharpen your poetry or scriptwriting skills, check out a couple of writing challenges happening in April.
Highlights Foundation: An Interview with Alison Green Myers
By Margo Dill
Join Margo as she chats with Alison about what the Highlights Foundation is up to (including renovating an old barn), and learn about their retreats and workshops.
Interviews in the Movies
By Jodi Webb
Jodi shares some fantastic tips for interviewing experts by comparing them to the way interviews are portrayed in the movies. Jodi's posts are always humorous, and I'm sure you'll relate. Check it out, and then sign up for her class Finding Experts and Interviewing Them on May 11!
Give Your Writing a Revision Sweep
By LuAnn Schindler
Need some help with revision? Try LuAnn's "sweep list" and follow her six-step program. You may find it tightens your storytelling!
Want to contribute to The Muffin?
Friday's are "Speak Out!" days. We allow
posts from contributors for promotion. If
you'd like to submit a post, please make sure
that it's about women and writing.
can be about: writing inspiration, balancing
family life/parenting with writing, craft of
writing fiction/nonfiction, how-tos, tips for
author promotion/marketing/social media, book
reviews, writing prompts, special
opportunities (paying markets for writers),
publishing industry news/gossip, and anything
you think our readers will love.
sure that there is take-away value to our
readers. No press releases please. We're more
interested in hearing from our core
audience--personal essays and humorous
anecdotes are encouraged as well, as long as
something useful to our audience--including a
good laugh! ;)
How To Submit: Submit your 250 - 500
word post in the
body of your email to
our blog editor Marcia Peterson: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please put "Friday Speak Out! Submission" in
your subject line. Upon acceptance, we will
ask for your bio,
links, bio photo, and any other pics to
illustrate the article. We look forward to
hearing from you!
Friday Speak Out! Posts of Interest:
A Woman and a Writer by Maria Rainier
Potty Tales: How Toilet Training Made Me a Writer Again by Julie Duffy
Late Blooming by Melissa Ann Goodwin
Living the Dream by Patricia Caviglia
Lists I Love by Betty Auchard
Living with Words by Jo Bryant
Writer? Me? by Melissa Aiello
A Woman Who Writes Is a Working Woman by Stephanie Romero
I'll Cry if I Want to by Jeanine DeHoney
If you haven't read these posts, be sure to check them out. They're so inspiration and motivating. F.S.O.s rock!
Want to get blog posts via email?
to The Muffin with Feedburner and get the
latest delivered straight to your inbox.
Visit The Muffin >>
We hope this issue will inspire you to get personal in your writing, no matter what type of writing your doing. Writing in this way allows you to reflect on your life, and has benefits that go far beyond being published. (Although, getting published is great, too!) It brings you joy, it lets you find out what you think and changes what you see, it gives your life meaning, and it lets you share.
So, go on, share already! We'll be reading.
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