Personal Writing
April 2011 
 WOW! Women On Writing
 Issue #44: Let's Get Personal ~ Memoir, Personal Essay, Journaling & More

In This Issue:
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Write a Marketable Children's Book in 7 Weeks

Highlights Foundation Founders Workshops

The Next Big Writer Strongest Start Competition

FanStory Writing and Poetry Contests

The Great First Impression Book Proposal

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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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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, Pacific Time.

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

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

Adair Lara 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!

MORE >> 

 Beginning Your Memoir and Creating Your Narrative Arc
 By Linda Joy Myers

Linda Joy Myers One of the hardest decisions to make when you're writing your memoir is where to begin. After all, you have your whole life as potential subject matter, so what do you focus on? Where do you begin? How much do you include? Linda Joy Myers has the answers in this fantastic article!

Linda is the president of the National Association of Memoir Writers and the author of The Power of Memoir, so she knows a thing or two about memoir writing. Her article is a must-read for anyone beginning their memoir and a great primer on memoir writing topics. It covers forming a story from your life, an excellent timeline exercise, themes in memoir, writing scenes, plot, narrative arc, and ultimately becoming heroines.


 Finding Innocence and Experience: Voices in Memoir
 By Sue William Silverman

Sue William Silverman Voice can be tricky no matter what genre you're writing in, but Sue William Silverman's article makes it seem like a snap! I seriously had an a-ha moment when I read it. This is our shortest article in this issue, but it's a pitch-perfect explanation of how to use voice. Like our previous two guests, Sue is also an author of a memoir-writing book, Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir. She shows us how to use the "I" in memoir as a literary device to enhance and explore complicated truths.


 People are Characters Too: A Guide for Bringing the People in Your Memoir to Life
 By Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

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!


 Journal Writing: Making it Personal
 By Linda Rhinehart Neas

Linda Rhinehart Neas Switching gears here a bit, we delve into the world of journaling. It's the foundation of all personal writing. In this article, Linda Rhinehart Neas teaches us the history of journal writing and the important role it played in women's lives throughout the ages, the various purposes a journal can serve--including a repository for favorite quotes and poems and leaving a legacy--and shares some wonderful resources that will inspire you to journal.


 Journaling for Healing, Health, and Happiness
 By Mari L. McCarthy

Mari McCarthy Journaling helps us understand what's really going on inside of us, so we can get past the baggage that we've been carrying around and experience our true, authentic, healthy self: the one that we came into this world with. In this article, journaling therapy specialist Mari L. McCarthy shows you how to start a healing journal for those with physical ailments, a grief journal for those that have lost a loved one, and a journal to help us make peace with the past.


 Chicken Soup Queen Linda Apple Shares Her Essay Writing Secrets
 By Margo L. Dill

Linda Apple Linda Apple has the recipe for what it takes to get a personal essay published in the famous, Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She's published stories in thirteen editions and teaches a workshop titled "Inspire! Writing from the Soul!" Her book by the same name also instructs writers on how to share themselves through personal writing. In this interview, Linda shares some tried and true ingredients for cooking up a successful, soulful personal essay, as well as some other paying markets for this type of writing!


 How to Attract New and Repeat Visitors to Read Your Blog
 By Kristie Lorette

Kristie Lorette As Linda Rhinehart Neas put it in her journaling article, "Today, journaling and diaries have morphed from special books hidden in secret spots to online exposÚs found on blogs and social networks." Whether you're using your blog as an online journal or blogging for business, you'll want to build an audience of readers. Marketing expert Kristie Lorette covers the characteristics of a successful blog, ways to attract more visitors, and the anatomy of a blog post. If you're new to blogging, this article will save you some time by providing you with a checklist of what you'll need for your blog.


 Coming Soon... Robyn Chausse's Official Review of the Tom Bird Retreat
 In the meantime, check out these posts!

Review of Tom Bird's Writing Retreat 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:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

My Experience at a Tom Bird Retreat:
Arrival in Sedona
Class has Begun
Finding My Novel
A Novel is Born


 WOW! Women On Writing Workshops & Classes
 invest in yourself, write now

WOW! Classes 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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.


I hope 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.


 Find out the latest from the Bakers of WOW!

The Muffin 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 days!

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.

Your post 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.

Please make 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 they provide 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: 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!


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In Closing:

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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Write On!

Angela & Team WOW!
WOW! Women On Writing LLC