Find Your Voice this Fall
October 2022 Markets Newsletter
View the entire newsletter online:
In This issue:

  • "Find Your Voice this Fall" by Renee Roberson
  • "On Submission With ... Lisa Duff of Rivercliff Books & Media" interview by Ashley Memory
  • October Deadlines: Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, Multigenre, Just for Fun
  • "Perseverance and Strength: How Author Danica Davidson Worked with Holocaust Survivor, Eva Mozes Kor, to Publish Her Story" interview by Margo L. Dill
  • Success Stories from the WOW! Community
  • "Isolated Vocals: Writing Dialogue, Speeches, and Audio Scripts" by Rosie MacLeod
  • "How to Have the Right Voice for Middle Grade" by Danica Davidson
The month of October is always fun, as we break out our fall layers, toast s’mores, carve pumpkins, and figure out if we’re going to partake in the Halloween fun or simply hand out the candy. While you’re contemplating the perfect costume, why not consider trying out a new voice with your writing?

I’ve always been a huge fan of the TV show Unsolved Mysteries. From the opening notes of the foreboding theme song to the unmistakable sound of host Robert Stack’s voice saying, “Perhaps, YOU can help solve a mystery . . .” I swear chills went up my spine at the beginning of each episode. I thought about his voice when creating the tone for my own true crime podcast, and developing your own unique voice is an essential part of writing.
Several years ago, I read about a case in the 1970s where three young Girl Scouts were brutally murdered in the middle of the night during a campout. Authorities believed they had caught the killer, but the suspect was acquitted during the trial. He died in prison a few months later on unrelated charges without the case ever being solved. I decided to write a short horror story based on this case. I chose to write it from the third person point of view, with snippets that shared the killer’s thoughts sprinkled throughout, so the reader could get a sense of how he had been treated by his childhood classmates, which contributed to his inner rage and self-loathing. I took the story, “The Monster in the Woods,” and then turned it into a bonus episode of my podcast, complete with foreboding sound effects like rumbling thunder, and channeled a voice I hoped would be reminiscent of a spooky campfire tale. That story recently took second place honors in the genre short story category of this year’s Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition.

But finding my voice in different stories and writing projects hasn’t always been easy. Years ago, I attempted a middle-grade novel told from the POV of a ten-year-old girl. I failed to nail the voice, and after a few rejections from the industry, gave up on the manuscript. I kept writing. Last fall, I completed a draft of a thriller novel during NaNoWriMo. That novel tells the story of a podcaster trying to solve her older sister’s disappearance. I wanted to use a variety of voices in the book, including transcripts of podcast episodes told by different “survivors,” the missing sister’s diary, their aunt who raised them, and even an “unknown” antagonist. As you can guess, this was not an easy task, and making sure each of these voices are unique will make up the bulk of my revision process. But I’m up for the challenge! How about you?

Here are three tips to help you find your own unique voice in storytelling:
On Submission With ... Lisa Duff of Rivercliff Books & Media
By Ashley Memory

Ever wonder what the future holds for writers? Buckle your seatbelt! Today we’re thrilled to interview groundbreaking entrepreneur, publisher, and editor Lisa Duff, who started her career in the exciting field of film and television production. After graduating from NYU film school, she first worked as a film and video editor. When Lisa got the first iPod and discovered the power of audiobooks, she eventually transitioned to audio; and in 2006, this pioneer established Wetware Media, a non-fiction audiobook publishing company (at a time when there may have been less than 5,000 audiobooks in publication!). Since then, Wetware Media has published over 150 audiobooks, several of which have become best-sellers on Audible and other audiobook platforms.

But she didn’t stop there. In 2019, Lisa started Rivercliff Books & Media, a literary imprint of Wetware Media. With Rivercliff, she merged her passion for film and TV with her love of publishing, as the Rivercliff titles are selected because they translate especially well to film and television.
WOW: Lisa, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed for WOW! I’ve been so looking forward to learning more about Rivercliff Books & Media. I love the tagline on your website that says “Lose yourself in wondrous stories.” May we interpret this as a mission statement of sorts? 

Lisa: Thank you for your interest, Ashley. I appreciate the opportunity to share information about Rivercliff Books & Media with your readers! Yes, it’s absolutely a mission statement! Story is the oldest form of entertainment. The entire world is made of stories. Who doesn’t love a story so fabulous that you completely lose yourself in it?

WOW: Indeed! Can you tell us a little bit more about how Rivercliff Books & Media began? 

Lisa: Rivercliff Books & Media began somewhat unexpectedly after I was introduced to Anne Merino by a mutual friend and read her fabulous novel, Hawkesmoor: A Novel of Vampire and Faerie. Her book was so captivating and visually evocative that I knew I had to publish it. But my publishing company, Wetware Media, published nonfiction and mostly audio format (though we had published a few print and eBooks). A sexy, mysterious vampire novel didn’t fit in that catalog, so I started a new imprint for fiction and more literary titles.

WOW: What does it mean to you to be an independent press? Are there advantages to publishers, writers, and readers?

Lisa: I’ve been an entrepreneur all of my life. I prefer not to work for a business owned by a multinational corporation, subject to the dictates of investors and stockholders. As an Indie publisher, I can rely on my instincts and taste. I think the advantage to writers is they will get personalized attention. Publishing a book is a long journey; our authors become like family. As for the benefit to readers, they’ll get terrific books that bigger publishing houses might not necessarily notice, let alone consider for publication.

WOW: Your website states that you welcome submissions from writers “all over the authorial map” which means the genres of fiction, nonfiction, and essay, which is great news for WOW subscribers. I also appreciate how you embrace both the spoken and written word through the PenDust Radio podcast, audiobooks, as well as traditional print media such as books. Do you see this multi-platform approach as the future of publishing?

Lisa: I would say that the multi-platform approach to publishing is the present state of publishing as well as the future. For example, audiobook sales have increased exponentially in the last ten years. An audio version can account for a significant portion of a book’s sales, so of course publishers are paying attention to platforms other than print.

A few years ago, as an experiment, I published a multimedia ebook, Dimensions Within: Physics and the Structure of Consciousness, by Samuel Avery. It contains text, video, and audio segments, as well as more than a dozen creatively animated videos to illustrate some of the enigmas of modern physics. The multimedia format was a bit ahead of its time, but I do think multimedia books will become much more widely available in nonfiction genres in the future.

And who knows what new platforms will emerge? At some point, virtual reality is likely to create exciting new publishing opportunities. It’s certainly an exciting time to be a publisher!
Lisa Duff
“I would say that the multi-platform approach to publishing is the present state of publishing as well as the future. Audiobook sales have increased exponentially in the last ten years. An audio version can account for a significant portion of a book’s sales, so of course publishers are paying attention to platforms other than print."
WOW: You’ve really stirred my imagination! I can only imagine our favorite stories told through virtual reality—The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, for example, or The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson! 

I first became aware of the PenDust Radio podcast through a market listing on this very newsletter back in March, when I submitted my nonfiction essay about a spooky lamp. And I was so happy you accepted it, and so proud that it will debut on October 6 as “My ‘Haunted’ Lamp: Murder, Mystery, and Remodeling.” For all future contributors, will you address what sort of work you’re seeking for PenDust Radio? Any advice? 
Lisa: We really enjoyed your story, Ashley! It starts on a mysterious note, and we loved going along for the ride as you investigated the lamp’s eerie history. And your story had an element that we love—it wrapped up with an unexpected insight. Great job!

We generally look for compelling stories (fiction or nonfiction), especially those with plot twists or unexpected endings. Unfortunately, we aren’t accepting submissions for PenDust Radio at the moment, but anyone interested in sharing their stories on the podcast can keep an eye on the submissions page for updates next year.

WOW: Thank you Lisa! I adored every one I’ve heard so far, especially pieces by Annilee Newton, Virginia Evans and Roberto Loiederman, but my favorite has to be “Lightning Flowers” by Sarah K. Lenz about the bizarre death of her great uncles in a lightning strike in 1914. So evocative and poignant. Will you share a few of your favorites? 

Lisa: Haha! That’s like asking a mother to name her favorite child! I love all of the short stories we publish on the PenDust Radio podcast. In addition to myself, two other editors must also sign off on each story, so if it appeals to all three of us, it's got a lot going for it.

That said, I'm especially partial to Roberto Loiderman's short memoirs. His story about a night he spent with Hunter Thompson was fascinating. And Playing Air Guitar in Paris, about his experience of being robbed while on vacation in Paris, was beautifully written and ended with a surprising twist. Roberto was a television writer, so he's got a great storytelling instinct. Next year we'll be publishing a book-length memoir of his about his incredible exploits as a merchant seaman on ammo ships during the Vietnam war.

WOW: Wow! I look forward to reading that! I have to say that I just love the PenDust website because it’s so engaging and fun to scroll through! You offer a story for every mood. And I was really impressed by the depth of voice talent you hire for the podcasts. Do you mind taking us through the steps it takes to produce these?

Lisa: I've been publishing audiobooks for 16 years, so I've assembled a great group of talented narrators, many of whom are also actors. When we have a short story, novel, or memoir that we want to publish in audio format, I think about who would have the best voice for that story and would bring the words alive most powerfully. Sometimes I know exactly who should narrate, but other times I get a short audition from a few narrators. Then I prepare the manuscript for the narrator. In addition to the story's text, it will also include notes on how to read specific passages, pronunciations, etc. If it's a longer work, like a novel, we hold a pre-production meeting with the narrator, audio engineer, and myself to ensure the story's essence shines through. After it’s recorded, we edit it, master the audio, and often add music. One of the short stories we published on the PenDust Radio podcast, Adrian's Affinity, lent itself well to being a full audio production. So that story included many complex layers of audio—fabulous sound effects, atmospheric backgrounds, different narrators for each character, and music written specifically for that project. It was lots of fun to work on!

WOW: I love that you’ll consider previously published work for the PenDust Radio podcast! I see that you also publish book-length material, through Rivercliff Books & Media. What are some of the book titles you’ve recently published?

Lisa: As I mentioned earlier, there’s Hawkesmoor: A Novel of Vampire and Faerie, Anne Merino’s eerie and mysterious page-turner about the sexy and charismatic vampire Robin Dashwood, who moves between his carefully constructed identity as an NYU professor and his ancestral castle on the wild moors of England. It’s a passionate love story set in both the past and the present that includes an 18th-century murder mystery.

WOW: How cool! A juicy love story entwined with a mystery, and with a vampire professor no less!

Lisa: Other highlights include two memoirs: Jerry Vis’ I’m not Here: Strange Relatives, a Stranger Boarding School, and the Saving Grace of Art and Love and Randy Spencer’s Written on Water: Characters and Mysteries from Maine’s Back of Beyond. Jerry Vis had an unusual childhood—he attended (against his wishes) a very peculiar, religious boarding school. He’s a masterful storyteller, and I loved (and also cringed at) the world he draws us into.

It’s an interesting coincidence how Written on Water came to be published. When I started the Rivercliff imprint, I emailed the narrators I’d worked with over the years to tell them about the new projects that would be coming up. In addition to being a master Maine fishing guide, Randy Spencer is also an audiobook narrator. When he got that email, he asked if I’d be interested in reading a memoir he’d recently completed called Written on Water. I thought, “Oh, no… not a book about fishing…” But I have tremendous respect for Randy—he’s a talented narrator and a brilliant writer—so I read it. First of all, while some of the stories take place as he guides tourists on fishing excursions, it’s not a book about fishing! Instead, it’s an extraordinary collection of stories about Grand Lake Stream (pop. 132), a part of Maine that hasn’t changed since the 1800s, and some of the eccentric and lovable folks who live there. It reminded me of the TV show Northern Exposure and completely blew me away.

WOW: I loved Northern Exposure, so I will have to check out Written on Water, too! In addition to the other works by Merino and Vis. By the way, how long does it take to hear back from submissions? 

Lisa: Since we’re a small press with a small staff, it does take us a while to review submissions. Generally 90 – 120 days.
Lisa Duff
“I specifically remember watching Hitchcock’s The Birds with [my grandfather] when it aired on TV. I was pretty young, but he asked me, 'What do you think the birds represent?' He taught me to think about stories beyond what’s on the surface, and I absorbed his love of visual media."
WOW: Now let’s turn to you. Many editors I interview started out as writers themselves. Is this the case for you?

Lisa: I came to publishing not as a writer but as someone with a great love of compelling stories. My parents were both fantastic storytellers, and my grandfather, Gordon Duff, was a well-known TV producer during the 1950s — the “golden age” of television. He produced classic drama shows like The Philco Television Playhouse and Playhouse 90. I have many fond memories of cuddling on the couch, watching movies and TV shows with my grandfather. I specifically remember watching Hitchcock’s The Birds with him when it aired on TV. I was pretty young, but he asked me, “What do you think the birds represent?” He taught me to think about stories beyond what’s on the surface, and I absorbed his love of visual media.

WOW: And his influence shows. You have a true passion for bringing stories to life in new ways. You’re running two publishing companies, as well as producing podcasts. That would seem to take more time and energy than one person has. Do you have a staff?

Lisa: Yes, thankfully! We’re a small staff, but we each have specific talents. For example, our Senior Editor, Carol Stanley, is absolutely fantastic at working with authors. She’s an experienced editor and is passionate about helping writers shine with their best work. She’s also worked in media and entertainment throughout her career. She started in PR in New York for film, television, and theater, then went on to Los Angeles to work in film production and development, as a publicist for television shows, and as a script doctor. Since we’re focused right now on acquiring titles well-suited for Film and TV, Carol brings a great deal of relevant experience to the table.

WOW: Here’s another question I always like to ask. When I wake up in the morning, I like to get the creative juices flowing with either a cup of tea or cranberry-pomegranate juice. What gets you going in the morning?

Lisa: I usually start each day with a belt of scotch. Haha — just kidding! No, I typically begin my day with exercise of some kind. I recently got a bicycle and love early morning rides along the beaches in my town. If the weather isn’t great for cycling, I’ll work out on the treadmill or elliptical in my home gym. Follow that with a cup of coffee, and I’m up and running!

WOW: Literally running! Tell us about a typical day in the life of a busy editor and publisher.

Lisa: As is the case with any publisher, my day often starts with reading. There are submissions to read and drafts of in-progress manuscripts. Sometimes I combine the reading with an indoor workout on the treadmill or the elliptical (which helps to keep my mind off the exercise!). After that, there’s no typical daily routine, as I respond to things as they arise. Emails, of course, and working with authors and editors on manuscript revisions or book publicity. In addition to Rivercliff, Wetware Media is still actively publishing new audiobooks and a podcast, so there is often lots of communication with narrators and my audio engineer.

WOW: That’s quite a full plate. What do you do when you’re not working?

Lisa: I love traveling and photography—especially when combined. One of my favorite recent trips was to Iceland. Witnessing and photographing the auroras was an unforgettable experience!
Lisa Duff in Iceland
WOW: I bet! I’m more than a little envious! You have so many irons in the fire. What else is on the horizon for you and Rivercliff?

Lisa: Right now, we’re very focused on seeing that our terrific titles have the opportunity to be translated into film, TV, or streaming projects. That requires that we find agents or production companies who see the same value in our material that we do. In their own way, all of our titles are well-suited to a visual adaptation.
Lisa Duff

“Right now, we’re very focused on seeing that our terrific titles have the opportunity to be translated into film, TV, or streaming projects."
WOW: You are truly committed to the success of your authors. That is so wonderful to hear. We at WOW wish you all the best, in both your personal and professional pursuits. Thank you so much for spending time with us today!

Lisa: Thank YOU, Ashley. I appreciate your interest and your terrific questions!
HOW TO SUBMIT: Visit the Rivercliff Media & Books submissions page. At this time, Lisa is seeking titles that can be successfully adapted for film and television. While the PenDust Radio podcast is not currently accepting submissions, check for updates on their submission page next year.

To learn more and check out even more great stories, Lisa encourages you to stop by, or follow them on Twitter: @RivercliffBooks and @PenDustRadio.
Ashley Memory
Ashley Memory is a columnist and critique editor for WOW and a regular contributor to Healthline Media. Her essay on seven years as a cherry grower, “The Year of the North Star,” will appear in an upcoming issue of GreenPrints magazine and “My ‘Haunted’ Lamp” will debut on PenDust radio October 6, just in time for Halloween. Another spooky essay, “Confessions of an Amateur Ghost Hunter” (begun in a WOW class taught by Chelsey Clammer), was named a finalist in the Under the Sun Summer 2022 Writing Contest. She has also written for Poets & Writers, NBC THINK, Wired, and Carve. Ashley lives in southwestern Randolph County, North Carolina, where she and her husband J.P. recently welcomed Max, a stray Siberian Husky, into their family. For more, see
The American Poetry Review Book Prize
Deadline: October 1
The prize of $3,000, with an introduction by the judge and distribution of the winning book by Copper Canyon Press through Consortium, will be awarded in 2023 with publication of the book in the same year. The author will receive a standard book publishing contract, with royalties paid in addition to the $3,000 prize. This year's final judge is poet Dana Levin. The prize is open to poets who have not published a book-length collection of poems with a registered ISBN. Submit a manuscript of 48 pages or more. Fee: $25

Writer's Digest Poetry Awards
Early Bird Deadline: October 1 (Regular Deadline: November 1)
"Calling all poets! We’re on the look out for poems of all styles–rhyming, free verse, haiku, and more–for the 17th Annual Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards! This is the only Writer’s Digest competition exclusively for poets. Enter any poem 32 lines or fewer for your chance to win $1,000 in cash." Prizes for up to 25 winners. Fee: (Early Bird): $20 (Regular Deadline): $25

Open Country Chapbook Contest 2022
Deadline: October 1
Open Country is looking for fresh, artfully constructed chapbooks. Submit a chapbook of original poems, 20-30 pages. Submissions will be read blind. The final five chapbooks will be forwarded to the contest judge, Melissa Kwasny. The winner will receive $500 and 10 author copies. Fee: $20

Jake Adam York Prize
Deadline: October 15
The Jake Adam York Prize for a first or second poetry collection is a collaboration between Copper Nickel and Milkweed Editions. The prize-winning poet receives $2,000 and publication by Milkweed Editions. Poets must be US Citizens (living abroad is fine) or must live in the US and be writing in English. Must be more than 48 pages. Fee: $25

Rattle Spring 2023 Issue - Tribute to Irish Poets
Deadline: October 15
Poems may be on any subject, but must be written by poets who identify as Irish and lived in Ireland for a significant portion of their lives. Submit up to 4 unpublished poems. Contributors to the print magazine receive $200 and a complimentary one-year subscription. Poems for "Online Only" categories receive $100. All submissions are automatically considered for the annual Neil Postman Award for Metaphor, a $2,000 prize judged by the editors. No fee.

The 2022 Love and Eros Prize
Deadline: October 16
"We encourage love poems beyond the confines of what’s traditionally 'romantic.' Rather, we’re seeking unflinching examinations of our sharpest human sensations—those of desire, longing, devotion, and intimacy." Palette's editors will choose the ten finalists and any honorable mentions that warrant extra attention. The winner and runners-up will be selected by our guest judge, Carl Phillips, author of Then the War (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2022). First prize winner receives $3,000. Second and third place will receive $300 and $200, respectively. Fee: $20

The 2023 Alice James Award
Deadline: October 16
The Alice James Award welcomes submissions of full-length, previously unpublished poetry manuscripts from emerging as well as established poets. Entrants must reside in the United States. In celebration of our 50th anniversary in 2023, the winner of the 2023 Alice James Award will receive $5000, book publication, and distribution through Consortium. Manuscripts must be 48 – 100 pages in length (single-spaced). Fee: $30

2022 Juxtaprose Poetry Prize
Deadline: October 23
$1,000 and publication in JuxtaProse Literary Magazine will be awarded to the winning poem. Up to three additional poems, each by a different author, may be awarded "Honorable Mention" status, for which they will receive $100 and publication. Entries should contain between one and five poems, and each poem should be no longer than two pages. Fee: $15

Streetlight Magazine 2022 Poetry Contest
Deadline: October 31
Submit up to three of your best, previously unpublished poems. Any subject. Prizes: 1st prize is $125, 2nd prize is $75, and 3rd prize is $50. Fee: $10

Comstock Review Chapbook Contest
Deadline: October 31
$1,000 plus 50 copies to author. Submit manuscript 25–34 pages (see line limit per page). Submissions must be unpublished as a collection, but individual poems may have been previously published in journals. Final judge will be editor Peggy Sperber Flanders. Fee: $32.50
The Last Line
Deadline: October 1
All stories must end with the last line provided: "The shredder roared to life, grinding the letter into tiny pieces of confetti." The line cannot be altered in any way, unless otherwise noted by the editors. The story should be between 300 and 5,000 words (this is more like a guideline and not a hard-and-fast rule; going over or under the word count won't get your story tossed from the slush pile). No fee.

Perito Prize
Deadline: October 1
The prize was created to get people thinking in different ways about inclusive environments, inclusion, diversity, accessibility, and inclusive design! "We think there are so many great stories out there to celebrate the diverse world we live in. We want to hear them and share them so both our writers and readers start to try and think, analyse and design for inclusive environments in absolutely every we do." The Perito Prize will be awarded to outstanding new short fiction of between 1000 and up to 2000 words. First Prize is a cash prize of £500 and the story will be uploaded to the Perito Prize section of the Perito website. Second and Third Prize is a special mention and the stories uploaded to the Perito Prize section of the Perito website as well as inclusion into the Anthology. No fee.

Dorothy Press
Deadline: October 1
Dorothy is an award-winning feminist press dedicated to works of fiction or near fiction, mostly by women. Each fall, they publish two new books simultaneously. They work to pair books that draw upon different aesthetic traditions, because a large part of their interest in literature lies in its possibilities, its endless stylistic and formal variety. Each submission should include a brief description of the book-length manuscript in question (no lengthy plot synopsis or pitch letter desired), a brief author’s and/or translator’s bio, and the first 20 pages of the manuscript pasted into the body of the email. Payment: royalties. No fee.

Merciless Mermaids: Tails from the Deep
Deadline: October 7
Seeking speculative fiction. "We're sounding the ship's bell for stories about malevolent and merciless merfolk of all kinds. Give us your mermaids who fought for the wrong reasons, made tough by their circumstances or by their own choices. Show us their schemes and villainous wiles, the fairytales that end in blood. Or laughter. Tempt us with their twisted workings across time and space, colors and creeds." Payment: 6 cents/word. No fee.

Emerging Writers Contest
Deadline: October 8
The Dream Foundry Contest for Emerging Writers is an annual no-submission fees contest with cash prizes! Every year our contest coordinator selects ten finalists from a pool of submissions from writers around the world. In addition to their cash prizes, winners get featured at Flights of Foundry, an annual convention where professionals from all over the industry come to discuss all things related to the speculative arts. Submit one complete and finalized story of up to 10,000 words. Entries can be from any country. No fee.

Out of the Darkness Anthology
Deadline: October 15
Out of the Darkness will be a charity anthology – with proceeds being donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. "We are looking for stories about escaping the darkness. The darkness of depression, the darkness of being a victim – any and all types of darkness will be considered. Stories do NOT have to have happy endings – but they should still show ways out of the darkness." Length: 2500-7500 words. No fee.

Endless Ink Publishing House Short Story Horror Comedy Contest
Deadline: October 21
This contest is open to any story you want to submit as long as it fits in the horror comedy genre. Your story must be in the horror comedy genre. The story must be between 5,000- 8,000 word count. 1st place prize is $750 in prize money (USD). 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place will receive $150 in prize money (USD). All winners will also receive a copy of the collection before the end of 2023. No fee.

2022 Novel Slices Excerpt Contest
Deadline: October 31
5 novel-excerpt writers will receive $150 each and publication in the winning issue. Santiago Vaquera-Vásquez will judge. Submit novel excerpts of approximately 4,000 to 6,000 words. All novel genres are welcome except for children's and middle grade. Fee: $20, which includes a digital copy of the award issue.

Uncharted Magazine Novel Excerpt Prize
Deadline: October 31
Guest judge Literary Agent Naomi Davis will choose three winning stories from a shortlist. "We're looking for the best 5,000 words or less of your novel in progress! Have a favorite chapter? An exciting and noteworthy prologue? A section where the dialogue crackles and the characters loom larger than life on the page? Give us a chance to read that section of your novel that captivates your audience enough to make them want to keep reading!" Writers may submit any section of their novel that is 1,001 - 5,000 words per entry. The excerpt and the novel must be unpublished. (full novel does not need to be completed). The winner of this prize $3000 and publication, while the 2nd and 3rd place winners will receive publication and $300 and $200, respectively along with publication. Fee: $20

"When Fiction Comes True" Short Story Contest
Deadline: October 31
"In Oprelle’s very first short story contest, ‘When Fiction Comes True’, we challenge our writers to write, in 600-3,000 words or less, a short story that takes place in a dystopian setting. All subgenres of fiction are accepted such as, action, romance, mystery, thriller, etc. We’re looking for something deeply stirring, with powerful language and allusions that give us goosebumps." Contest entries have a 600-word minimum length, but no longer than 3,000 words. Prizes: 1st Place: $250, featured writer in our newsletter, story posted on our blog, certificate; 2nd Place: $150, story posted on our blog, certificate; 3rd Place: $100, certificate. Fee: $10

​2023 Raleigh Review Flash Fiction Prize
Deadline: October 31
Submit up to two unpublished works of flash per entry. Flash works should be no longer than 1000 words each, combine both stories in one file. First Prize includes $300 USD and publication in the Spring 2023 issue. Finalists will receive our standard $15 payment along with publication. Fee: $5

Pithead Chapel: The Larry Brown Short Story Award
Deadline: October 31
Stories no more than 4,000 words. The winners will receive the following prizes: 1st $500, 2nd $50, 3rd $50, and 4th and 5th will receive a copy of the book Tiny Love: The Complete Stories by Larry Brown. Each prize winner will be published in the January 2023 issue of Pithead Chapel. Guest judge is Kristen Arnett. Fee: $10

A Darkness Visible Anthology
Deadline: October 31
Ontology Books is seeking submissions for its upcoming anthology A Darkness Visible focused on postmodern horror. It is safe to say that “postmodern” is a slippery concept open to multiple interpretations and meanings. They are seeking short stories of between 3,000 and 8,000 words addressing this theme. Writers like Mark Danielewski (House of Leaves), Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho), William Burroughs (Naked Lunch) or Thomas Pynchon (Gravity’s Rainbow) may be reference points, although thinking outside the box is welcome. Stories may be in the horror genre, or they may investigate horrific aspects of what Jean-François Lyotard called “the postmodern condition.” Payment is £80 and a copy of the book. No fee.

Manawaker Studios: Flash Fiction Podcast
Deadline: October 31
Seeking flash fiction for audio format. The ideal length is around 800 words, but stories as short as 250 or as long as 1500 may be considered. All genres will be considered, but the story must remain accessible to all ages, which mostly means no erotica or gore-horror. The editor has a particular love for sci-fi stories, so those may get slightly stronger consideration. They also prefer stories that have a plot. Payment: 1 cent/word. No fee.
Keeping It Under Wraps: Bodies, Uncensored
Deadline: October 1
"We are looking for personal essays for an anthology about your experiences, views and ideas on bodies: your own or in general. The finished anthology will contain 20-25 essays. We work to ensure a diverse and inclusive group of voices…We will not be accepting any poetry, fiction, or other forms of writing except personal essays for this anthology." No simultaneous submissions. Submission Word Count: 1000 - 5000 words. The authors published in this anthology will each receive 40GBP* (or in your currency) for their work and a copy of the book once it is in print. No fee.

9th Annual Permafrost Nonfiction Book Prize
Deadline: October 1
Since 2014, Permafrost Magazine has held an Annual Book Prize contest for the best manuscript (genre alternating each year). The winner of the contest receives $1000 and publication through the University of Alaska Press. Joy Castro will judge this year's contest. Fee: $20

Event Magazine's Creative Nonfiction Contest
Deadline: October 15
$3,000 in prizes, plus publication. Now celebrating its 50th year of publication. They encourage writers from diverse backgrounds and experience levels to submit their work. Judge is Jenny Heijun Wills. Explore the creative nonfiction form. 5,000-word limit. Fee: $34.95, which includes a one-year subscription to Event magazine.

River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize
Deadline: October 31
$1,000 and publication with University of New Mexico Press. Natasha Trethewey will judge. Manuscripts must be between 35K-85K words long (approximately 150-350 pages). Fee: $27, which includes a one-year subscription to River Teeth.

Evocations Review Essay Contest: Reproductive Freedom
Deadline: October 31
Evocations Review is keeping focus on Americans' constitutional right to an abortion by featuring essays that speak to reproductive freedom from a personal lens. What does reproductive freedom mean to you? Why is it important to maintain and protect? We welcome essays on the topic of healthcare, medical fields, democracy, constitutional rights, church v. state, women's rights, race and gender equity, intersectional analysis, personal stories, and more. Bring readers into the realities and ramifications of reproductive freedom, or lack thereof, and share what abortion-access specifically means to you. Essays under 2,000 words. Winner receives $200, publication, an Evocations hat, and judge feedback. Contest Judge: Kim Coates, PhD. Fee: $5

Mayday Creative Nonfiction Prize
Deadline: October 31
Winner receives $1,000 and publication. Submit an essay (2000-7500 words) exploring the theme of Disappearance (of people, places, things, etc). All styles, forms, and genres of creative nonfiction are welcome. Fee: $20

The Rumpus: Essays
Deadline: October 31
The Rumpus welcomes essay submissions up to 4,000 words in length. In addition to personal narrative-driven essays we are interested in non-traditional forms of nonfiction. Essays should explore issues and ideas with depth and breadth, illuminating a larger cultural context or human struggle. Regardless of topic, we are looking for well-crafted sentences, a clear voice, vivid scenes, dramatic arc, reflection, thematic build, and attention to the musicality of prose. $300 is set aside each month and payment is split between contributors. No fee.

The Tamaqua Award: Essay Collection
Deadline: October 31
Hidden River Arts offers an award of $1,000 and publication by Hidden River Press, an imprint of Hidden River Publishing, for an original collection of essays. Previous publication of individual essays is acceptable, as long as you include the list of the published essays, the journals and magazines where they appeared, and authorize that the publication rights have reverted to you, as author. Fee: $20
Deadline: October 1
Seeking literary fiction, personal essays, and literary genre fiction for Riddlebird's January 2023 issue. Limit one submission a period. 650 - 5,000 words. Authors are compensated $100 and a contributor’s hard copy. No fee.

32nd Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize
Deadline: October 1
Submit one piece of fiction or nonfiction up to 8,500 words or any number of poems up to 10 pages. Please double-space fiction and nonfiction entries. Entries must be previously unpublished. $5,000 Fiction | $5,000 Nonfiction | $5,000 Poetry. Winners receive publication, invitation to a reception and reading in their honor, and a cash prize. Fee: $25

Gordon Square Review
Deadline: October 1
Gordon Square Review encourages writers to submit poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. Poetry guidelines: only include one poem in your submission. Fiction guidelines: Only include one story in your submission. The word limit is 7,500 words. Nonfiction guidelines: Only include one story or essay in your submission. The word limit is 1,000 words (if fewer than 1,000 words, that is okay). Gordon Square Review pays a modest honorarium for accepted work ($25 per accepted prose piece and $10 per accepted poem). No fee.

Scum Magazine
Deadline: October 7 (opens October 1)
Feminist-friendly work of any variety, but as a general rule your piece should be under 2000 words (50 lines for poetry, max. 3 poems) and able to be classified as fiction, culture, memoir, column, poetry, and/or review. Payment: $60 AUD. No fee.

Center of Gravity
Deadline: October 15
"We are particularly interested in submissions that engage with the various centers of gravity concerning voting, reproductive rights, and trans rights, making black lives matter, healthcare, inequality, and their intersections with the environment and autonomy. In particular, we ask how acts of resistance might rebuild our human and nonhuman dwelling places while creating resilient systems of authentic community." Poetry/Lyric: up to 3 pieces which do not exceed 50 lines each. Fiction, essays, creative nonfiction and other prose: up to 3 pieces which do not exceed 4000 words each. No fee.

Camas: Theme - Lore
Deadline: October 15
"The Camas 2022 winter issue is inspired by the idea of lore, whatever that means to you. Enchant us, capture us, scare us. Remind us why we tell stories." Poetry and prose contributors will be awarded $50. We will select a feature piece from each genre to receive a larger cash prize of $125. Limit: 5,000 words. Please note that we accept up to five poetry pieces per writer per submission period. Fee: $2

Consequence Forum
Deadline: October 15
All submissions need to address in some manner the human consequences and realities of war or geopolitical violence. Fiction: Short story (up to 5,000 words), Flash (up to 3 pieces or 1000 words), and Excerpts (up to 5,000 words); Nonfiction: Interviews, Reviews, Essays, and Narrative Nonfiction (all up to 5,000 words); Poetry: Up to 5 poems of any form (please label the file with the number of poems, e.g. “Three_Poems”). Publications receive: Print Poetry: $40 per piece; Print Prose: (1-4 pps) $40 | (5-10 pps) $60 | (11+ pps) $80; Online Poetry: $40 per piece; Online Art: $40 per piece. No fee.

The Minnesota Review
Deadline: October 15
Please submit only one story (5,000 words or less), or up to four short shorts or flash fiction pieces (1,000 words or less each). All types of poetry are reviewed. You may submit three to five poems per reading period. No fee.

The Plentitudes
Deadline: October 15
"We are accepting submissions of poetry, short stories, and personal essays." Personal essays & stories: 1,500 - 5,000 words. Poems: No more than 10 pages and no more than 5 poems, in ONE document. Upon publication, they award an honorarium of US $50 per published story, essay, poem or collection of poems. No fee.

Tahoma Literary Review
Deadline: October 15
For fiction, they like stories that offer imaginative premises, unusual or marginalized characters, and high stakes. For nonfiction, send the stuff you never thought would get published anywhere or the thing you have to take a deep breath over before submitting or running by your critique group. For poetry, alongside free verse, works that are formal, prose, or long form poems are also welcome. Word limit for fiction and nonfiction is 1,500 to 6,000 words. You can submit up to six poems. $135 for longer prose and poems. Fee: $5 (for fiction & nonfiction); $4 (for poetry).

Thin Air Magazine
Deadline: October 15
"What defines a ‘homeland’? For this issue, we want work that explores the complex and malleable nature of homes, lands, and all that they encompass. Thin Air is accepting submissions in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, but we also seek work that defies genre categorization and embraces hybridity." They accept fiction and nonfiction up to 3,000 words. We will consider novel excerpts as long as they can stand alone. Send up to three poems in one document totaling five or fewer pages. No fee.

Deadline: October 15
Seeking science fiction and fantasy short fiction and poetry. Accepts reprints. Flash Fiction: 200 - 1500 words. Short Stories: 1,500 - 5,000 words. Poems: up to 900 words. Payment: $0.06/word. Payment for reprints is $0.03/word. Poems are paid at the rate of $25 to $100. No fee.

Sand, Salt, and Blood Anthology
Deadline: October 16
This is an anthology of sea horror stories, aiming to raise money for the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution – Submissions must be in the horror genre. All subgenres are welcome including bizarro, splatterpunk and extreme horror, but don’t shock for the sake of shock. Poetry is also welcome. Authors may submit 3 (three) stories or poems maximum for consideration. $0.01 per word for short fiction, $25 per poem (any length), paid via PayPal, plus 1 x paperback contributor copy following publication. Length: 2 – 4K words (no minimum/maximum word count for poetry). No fee.

New Letters Editor's Choice Award
Deadline: October 17
"We’re looking for work that experiments, that crosses the traditional boundaries of genre and form. Enter your hybrid work—your lyric essays, prose poems, short-shorts, collages, micro-memoirs . . . whatever you’re doing that’s experimental, that defies easy categorization." The winner will be published in New Letters and receive a $1,000 cash prize. Max word count is 8,000. Entries must cross the traditional boundaries of genre and form. Fee: $20

Oxford Magazine
Deadline: October 17
"We encourage prose/poetry writing and art that bends genres, experiments with forms, and includes interesting premises. We like writing that searches for meaning in experience—writing that makes us feel and think, cry and laugh, reflect and relate." Please submit fiction no more than 10,000 words, creative nonfiction of no more than 5,000 words, and no more than five poems in one document. No fee.

Barely South Review
Deadline: October 25
Barely South Review seeks original, unpublished works of nonfiction, poetry, short fiction, and art. Submit your fiction of one short story, not to exceed 4000 words. Fiction submissions are capped at 100. You can submit up to three flash pieces of nonfiction or fiction of less than 1000 words each. Please submit each piece separately. Submit one piece of creative nonfiction up to 4000 words. Submit up to 5 poems. No fee.

Vestal Review Food Writing Contest
Deadline: October 31
Proust began with a madeleine dipped in lime tea. Roald Dahl’s story featuring a leg of lamb still shocks people. Laura Esquivel’s Tita and her recipes continue to enchant readers. 500-word limit. All entries will be judged anonymously. First prize: $250; Second prize: $150; Third prize: $75. Contest judge is Mark Rotella. Fee: $7

CRAFT Amelia Gray 2k Contest
Deadline: October 31
This contest is open to microfiction, flash fiction, and prose poetry. Submissions up to 2,000 words—if submitting two pieces, please send them in a SINGLE document. The writers of the three winning pieces will each receive $1,000 and a bundle of Rose Metal Press Field Guides. Fee: $20

The Big Book of Things That Go Bump in the Night: A Collection of Utah Horror - Middle-Grade
Deadline: October 31
All entries must have a Utah connection, either on the part of the author or the story itself. Stories and poems suitable for a middle-grade audience in the same vein as Neil Gaiman, Victoria Schwab, Patrick Ness, Holly Black, and R.L. Stine. Please ensure your story/poem is suitable for a younger audience. Flash Fiction: 1000 words or less. Short Fiction: 1001 - 5000 words. Payment: $10 - $35. No fee.
WOW! Women on Writing Quarterly Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Contests
Deadlines: October 31 (Creative nonfiction) and November 30 (Fiction). Our favorite writing community offers quarterly contests judged blindly with multiple cash prizes and more for 20 winners, up to $1,350 (fiction) and $1,175 plus a gift certificate to CreateWriteNow (nonfiction), an affordable critique option, and a 300-entry limit on each contest. What’s not to love? This season's guest judge is Literary Agent Savannah Brooks with KT Literary Agency. Fee: $10 (Flash Fiction) and $12 (Nonfiction).
Just for Fun
With Halloween being October 31st, it's only appropriate to share a couple Halloween-themed calls!

Furious Gazelle wants your spookiest and haunt-iest by October 1st and have the chance to win a $50 first prize! No fee.

Tales from the Moonlit Path wants dark, eerie, speculative stories on the theme of Halloween. Payment is $10. Submit by October 13th! No fee.
Author Interview
Perseverance and Strength: How Author Danica Davidson Worked with Holocaust Surviver, Eva Mozes Kor, to Publish Her Story
By Margo L. Dill

Danica Davidson, the author of eighteen books for kids and teens, has an amazing story to tell about her new children’s book, I Will Protect You: A True Story of Twins Who Survived Auschwitz (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2022), and she is sharing it with WOW! readers this month. This children’s book tackles tough subjects since it is the “true story of twin sisters who survived Nazi experimentation, against all odds, during the Holocaust.” However, both Danica and Eva, who is one of the twins, believes it’s important to educate youth about the Holocaust and stop children from allowing these kinds of horrific events to happen again in their lifetime.

Besides telling us about the book, Danica also shares below how she got connected with Eva and how she saw the book through to publication after so many rejections; her agent was ready to put it on the shelf. Because Danica believed in this story and partnered with Eva, she did not want that to happen. I Will Protect You is a story of the Holocaust, family, and survival; and this interview will show you how Danica was the perfect person to write the book.
WOW: We are delighted to talk to you about your new book for kids, I Will Protect You: A True Story of Twins Who Survived Auschwitz. What is this book about?

Danica: This is the true story of Eva Mozes Kor, surviving Auschwitz when she was in elementary school, and how afterward she found healing and purpose in life, becoming a Holocaust educator.

WOW: I bet we can all learn a lot from Eva, no matter what our age is. Who is the main audience? Should teachers check out this book?

Danica: The main audience consists of kids, ages 8-12 years old. Eva wanted to reach younger kids because Holocaust education in America usually starts at 12 or older (or not at all). She said if you wait until 12, it’s too late because the prejudices are already set in. You can read I Will Protect You if you’re older than that (some adults have told me how much they’ve learned from it), but we’re trying to reach that younger age range.

Yes, teachers should definitely check out I Will Protect You! This book is meant to fill a gap in Holocaust education. Most kids’ books on the Holocaust are either personal stories of hiding or escaping, or they’re textbooks. This is a child’s point-of-view on Auschwitz, which is extremely rare.

WOW: Thank you for explaining that to us and the reason why this book stands out! The cover lists, “Eva Mozes Kor with Danica Davidson.” What does this mean? Is Eva one of the twins?

Danica: Eva was one of the twins who was infamously experimented upon by a Nazi doctor named Josef Mengele. I did all the writing, but we worked on this book together. It’s her official story, and I would send chapters to her after I wrote them to get her approval and see if she wanted any changes. She only ever wanted tweaks made.

WOW: I bet this was an amazing experience as an author. What an honor to work with Eva! So, how did you come to write this book?

Danica: I’d experienced increased antisemitism in my life and wanted to do something constructive about it, but didn’t know what. First, I thought I needed to educate myself more, so I read a lot of Jewish-themed books and saw Jewish speakers. Eva was one of those speakers.

I introduced myself after her talk, hoping I could interview her for a magazine. But when she learned I’d published sixteen kids’ books, she lit up and said she wanted to do a kid’s book on her life. Since she was a kid when she survived the Holocaust, I Will Protect You is like one child talking to another child, the reader. It’s on a child’s level.
"I went to my local library and pulled out all the middle grade and YA books that had anything to do with World War II or the Holocaust. I checked their acknowledgements for editor names and gave those to my agent. One of those editors ... made an offer."
WOW: I love that you wanted to learn more about a topic, and it led to a book. I also think we can all learn from how you introduced yourself to Eva after hearing her speak, and the connection turned into a book. It goes to show that we don’t only have to write what we know. But we can also write what we are passionate about. What is special about this book for kids? How did it become a published book? 

Danica: There is nothing else like it on the market for this age range. Not only does it explain the Holocaust in an accessible way, but it also weaves in history. I thought it was important for kids to have a basic understanding of the long history of antisemitism to understand how the Holocaust could have even happened. I wanted kids to know more of the context of what the world was like when World War II occurred. These things don’t manifest out of nowhere. I hope it can help readers recognize things when they see it, like extremism, conspiracy theories, propaganda, and rights being taken away.

After I wrote the first draft, I sent it to rabbis, educators, and Michael Berenbaum, who’s considered the world’s premiere scholar on the Holocaust. After some more edits and Eva’s approval, I gave the completed manuscript to my agent to pitch.

The manuscript kept getting rejected by publishers. The main reason publishers gave was, “We already have a book on the Holocaust,” which I thought was ridiculous because one book can’t capture something as huge as the Holocaust.

My agent said he was going to give it one last try, and then shelve the book and move onto something else. I didn’t want that to happen. I didn’t want Eva to lose this opportunity. So I went to my local library and pulled out all the middle grade and YA books that had anything to do with World War II or the Holocaust. I checked their acknowledgements for editor names and gave those to my agent. One of those editors, Lisa Yoskowitz, made an offer. Eva and I were thrilled.

Then Eva passed away unexpectedly only fifteen days later while on an education trip to Auschwitz. I wish so much she was here to see this book get published.

WOW: I am so sorry to hear about Eva passing away, but I am glad she found out that the book would be published. I think this story also shows us that your passion and hard work helped you to get a book contract. So often, we don’t know the work and perseverance that goes into projects—we just see the finished project. What are some of the themes in your book?

Danica: Some of the themes include strength in the face of adversity; the importance of standing up for ourselves; how when other people abuse us, it’s not our fault; and that healing after trauma is possible.

WOW: Those are all universal themes that kids definitely need to be aware of in today’s society, as well as learning about an important piece of history. What advice do you have for children’s writers who have a nonfiction story to tell?

Danica: If it’s from the point of view of a child, use a child’s voice. What did you think and sound like at this age?

Don’t shy away from reality. Sometimes nonfiction stories are hard to tell because sometimes life is hard. But it’s important these stories aren’t shoved away just because they might make someone uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable sometimes can help us grow. Censorship is up, and I’ve dealt with multiple attacks on this book, like people saying children shouldn’t learn about the Holocaust, so they can remain innocent. But I don’t believe in censorship, and I don’t believe in other people telling me what I can and can’t write. True stories like Eva’s need to get out there.
"I don’t believe in censorship, and I don’t believe in other people telling me what I can and can’t write. True stories like Eva’s need to get out there."
WOW: Thank you for having the courage, skill, and passion to tell Eva’s story. What are some trends in children’s publishing right now?

Danica: We’re seeing more serious stories get told. On the other end, we’re seeing more kids’ graphic novels and comics selling very well, and these tend to be more on the lighter end of entertainment (though not always). I think both serious books and lighthearted books are a healthy blend to read. This is how I tend to read. Because it’s important to learn more, but sometimes books are just great for escapism and can calm you down after a hard day.

WOW: That is so true, and I think many people consume both serious and lighthearted stories with all forms of media. What’s next for you in your writing?

Danica: I just published two more books after I Will Protect You, both related to manga, which are Japanese comics. The first is Chalk Art Manga, the first-ever book on how to draw in the manga style using chalk. The art ranges from simple to more complex. Then there is Manga Art for Everyone, the sequel to my bestselling book, Manga Art for Beginners. With both of these new books, I worked with Japanese manga creator Rena Saiya.

I like to write in different styles, and I like to write both serious books and lighter books. I guess it’s like how I also enjoy reading both.

WOW: Best of luck with all of these! It sounds like you have been keeping very busy. Is there anything else you would like to add about your book or your writing? 
Eva Moses Kor
Danica: Eva was in love with this book. She told me I had a lot of choices in how to write it, and I made all the right ones. She hoped every child would be able to read this book and learn from it to not repeat the same mistakes of the past. Without her here, it’s fallen to me to continue her legacy with this book.

I’m an author of eighteen books, including serious nonfiction, science fiction Minecrafter adventure stories, manga how-to-draw books, and comics. I love writing in different areas because it stretches my imagination. I’d be honored if you’d check out my website at to see more of what I’ve written.

WOW: I hope readers everywhere (and every age) check out Eva’s story in your book and learn about strength and history while they are reading. Thank you so much for chatting with us today! The story of how this book found a publisher and how you worked with Eva is also truly inspiring and a great example for all of us.
Margo L. Dill

Margo L. Dill is an author, editor and publisher living in St. Louis, MO. She also teaches writing courses for WOW! Women On Writing. You can find out more about her at or
Success Stories
By Margo L. Dill

As always, we are excited to bring you some successes from our community of writers. We hope when you see these posts calling for you to tell us about your success on social media that you will share ANYTHING you’ve been up to that fulfills a goal! All stages of success—from meeting daily word counts to getting a website up and running to publishing a book—inspire other writers to do the same. Remember, you can always email me to share your success, too, at and Please send to both email addresses to stay out of the spam filter, and please label your email with Success Story!

We also want to highlight a special post that Renee Roberson wrote for The Muffin titled, “Dance Like No One’s Watching (And Other Ways to Soothe Your Soul.” In the post, she writes about how dancing soothed her soul as a teenager. If you missed it, you can read it here.

It inspired us to ask on social media ways that our community soothes their souls (besides writing!), and we share those answers with you below, too. We hope that Renee’s post and our fellow writers’ answers will inspire you to take a break this fall and do something for yourself! Sometimes, the end of the year can be hard, with holidays and goals unmet. Give yourself grace, and re-inspire yourself to get ready for the new year.


Ashley Memory writes, “My WOW interview with author Ruth Moose led to a major news story in the local media!!!”

Angela Mackintosh writes, “My lyric goth flash collage that I wrote during the height of the pandemic, 'Waiting for the End' just published in Issue 44.1 (September 2022) of Permafrost, America's farthest north literary magazine. Stoked!”


@penneywrites writes, “I have a short piece coming out in issue 2 of Mountain Bluebird Magazine. Writing it broke the drought I experienced from the COVID lockdowns here. Very grateful to that piece.”

@genalea_barker writes, “Two exciting things happened recently: I signed a publication contract for my second book and received ARCs for my debut! Feedback from ARC readers has thus far been incredibly positive!”


Nicole Pyles writes, “Ooh! I got one this time! My flash fiction story, ‘I'm Not Home Yet,’ will be published in Arlington Literary Journal in 2023.”

Renee Roberson writes, “My story, ‘The Monster in the Woods,’ placed 2nd in the Genre Short Story category of the 91st Annual Writer’s Digest Competition.”

Sheree Combs writes, “My nonfiction story, ‘My Girl,’ was published in Beyond Words International Literary Magazine, Issue 29, September 2022.”

Lynn Nicholas writes, “Very excited to say that my short story, ‘Desert Bloomers Gardening Club’ will be included in a h/c anthology, which will be launched at the regional Sisters in Crime conference in March 2023.”

Priscilla Aloysius writes, “I had a short memoir, ‘Practicing,’ accepted for publication in Open Book Reading’s Unbound newsletter. (Under the name Priscilla Thomas).”

What is your favorite way to soothe your soul besides writing?

Sophie Giroir writes, “It might not sound magical, but playing video games. Immersing myself in the stories as I fight, explore, and make impossible choices. It's really a great way to calm the stress.”

Susan Norman writes, “I like to plunge into an incredibly frigid body of water, stay in until I feel hypothermia setting in, then I walk for one mile, then run for one mile. Then I get myself some place snuggly. Soothes my Soul. lol!”

Rosa Ann Whitehorn Smith writes, “Reading Hebrew out loud. I can’t translate 99.9% of it, but I’m learning. The language calms my soul.”

Nadine Feldman writes, “Cooking, walking in the woods, and drinking cacao a few times a week.”

Jenn Flynn Shon writes, “Cranking up the tunes and painting some furniture, or a room.”

Linda Strader writes, “Swimming laps or hiking in a forest...depending on the weather.”

Tammie Burnsed writes, “I love to paint. I have no expectations to sell my paintings—none of the nonsense pressure about being good enough. It's just fun. I get better with each canvas, and that's enough.”

Jill Earl writes, “Reading with either a glass of wine or a mug of tea.”

Ramona Scarborough writes, “Drinking coffee in the bath while listening to calming music.”

Mari L. Mccarthy writes, “Singing!”

Pam Coffer Moore writes, “Listening to music while looking at pics of grands & great-grands.”

Loraine Rocconi Page writes, “Writing definitely doesn't soothe my soul. Photography does.”

Katie Wong writes, “Gardening. Something about getting your hands in the dirt and growing something (eventually) is soothing.”

Sheryl Davis writes, “Gardening and music.”

Lynn Nicholas writes, “Reading books I can get lost in, painting (currently watercolors), wandering a plant nursery or a garden, spending time with my fur friends. (2 dogs and a cat)”

Charity Marie, Author writes, “Coloring, painting, listening to good music.”

Janet Coburn writes, “Listening to music.”

Ashleysweeneyauthor writes, “Gardening.”

Faye Roberts writes, “Prayers of gratitude. Listing blessings one by one. Even better in a bubble bath.”

Linda Jämsén, Author writes, “Playing Chopin on my piano.”

Constance Davidson writes, “Reading the Bible or listening to Christian music.”

Sharleen Nelson writes, “Swimming.”

Amy Nicole DeFlavis writes, “Walking or running outside.”

Genny Lynch writes, “Forest bathing.”

Manda Jayne Inoue writes, “Listening to music, painting or crocheting.”

Kathleen Williams Renk writes, “Singing!”

Virginia Sauvé writes, “Find a forest to walk through.”

Liz Miller writes, “Walking.”

Sheryl Michilli writes, “Driving the back roads. Anywhere and everywhere.”
Feature Article: Isolated Vocals: Writing Dialogue, Speeches, and Audio Scripts
By Rosie MacLeod

During a conversation, you can present your own thesis and ideas in a way that feels natural to you. Your words can induce a mental state that gives clear insight to your personal worldview. By contrast, during a television quiz, the answer is either right or wrong. Contestants must say exactly what others expect to hear in order to sound right. A similar dichotomy applies in writing.

When composing a memoir or creative nonfiction, the language of our own choosing works best. It produces a direct relay of our unique thoughts, as events unfolded. This immerses the reader in a personal account of our experience and its impact upon us that the reader can share in. Similarly, when describing a place or a setting, we can be as ornate and creative with our words as the word count allows. Achieving a vivid description in this way will also help readers feel they have been transported there. However, a completely different approach and skillset is needed when writing words designed to be said aloud, be it for dialogue, keynote addresses or the airwaves. While the descriptive uses artistic license and plays with language to draw the reader in, writing speech must replicate everyday interactions to achieve the same goal. As in a television quiz, it is only the words we expect to hear that can possibly sound right. Any others will grate on the ears.

When creating speech, you are not writing to convince others of your own viewpoint or to transport them into your experiences. Quite the opposite: you are holding a mirror to reality. The writer must become attentive to the mundane world and draw speech directly from that realness in order to produce natural-sounding, convincing dialogue that drives the thread of a compelling story.
Writing Dialogue for Fiction
A wordsmith’s natural appetite to play with words and meaning, coupled with the hardwired expectation of formality and high register, can lead a writer to create a vocal exchange far removed from reality. The best tip I learned in “Modern Languages” is: when translating a problematic word or phrase, always ask yourself: What does it actually mean? As with translation, writing dialogue entails asking: what is actually there? To this end, author Angela Clarke (Confessions of a Fashionista, Follow Me, On My Life) advises “writers to go to a local café and listen to the conversations going on around them. How do people talk to each other? Do they cut over each other? Do they interrupt? Do they go back and forth? Are they talking at cross-purposes?”

Already, we see that human interaction can play out in many ways the creative writer likely overlooks in favor of envisioned, fanciful interactions. The ironic thing is that the artist’s vivid imagination can convolute the very work it has initiated. Simply copying reality and using more simple terms work better. In Follow Me, Angela creates compelling reading from no more than a direct relay of real communication. The crime thriller is set online, and she quotes “word for word the very violent and aggressive tweets that were sent for [her]” when she published some articles on feminism. Replicating the genuine and very threatening speech of the online villains enables Angela to communicate their personality in seconds, thus achieving the golden goal of all writers: show, don’t tell.
Using Dialogue for Characterization
Dialogue that mirrors reality enables character development. This not only saves you words to use on plot but also enables you to say more in fewer words, something Angela says, “Makes your writing tight and flow better.”

So how do we characterize through dialogue? Angela points out that we need to “listen out for accents, for different class, different hierarchies within conversations.” This is the way people speak in life, and the way we interpret and decode them every day, not always consciously. This is the exact process we want to replicate on the page when our characters interact verbally.

Another of Angela’s tips is “to assign nicknames that only one character uses. For example, in Follow Me, Freddie calls Nas, ‘Nas,’ and anybody else calls her ‘Nasreen.’ So I don’t have to write ‘Freddie said’ after any time she says Nas.” By the time you have woven your vocal interactions into your story, “you should be able to tell which character is speaking just from reading a single line of dialogue anywhere throughout the book.”

Writers author stories all the time, sometimes over years and often subconsciously. We visualize a tale or concept before finding the words to capture it. This mental creative process develops a deep knowledge of a specific character’s mindset and past. While you may long to convey your hard-won protagonist’s entire profile, your readers simply don’t have the patience. The sad truth is they are not indebted to your hours of story development. So, can you channel character personality through speech? If you are writing about a sixteen-year-old girl dreading exams, find out how girls of that age group speak and their popular words for dislikes. If your character has moved from one area to another, use occasional dialect from the previous place to show this retained aspect of their background.

If, like Angela, writing crime fiction or murder mystery is your thing, look into the findings of forensic linguists. Until the story’s resolution, only you have the secret information on the culprit. You still need to make that character’s speech realistic, so try to find out how undiscovered criminals talk. What might someone who has committed a crime say to conceal involvement? How could that person verbally slip up and inadvertently reveal a connection to the crime? Is it with articles such as “the” that indicate distance? Or maybe possessives like “my” that show connection? Using speech to hint at involvement can only hold the attention of your reader until the end. This is another example of how less is more, and showing dialogue in its bare realness creates a dramatic effect on the reader. Don’t be afraid to approach a forensic linguist to help you develop the vocal persona you want to create.
Like dialogue, speechwriting is also most effective when constructed from what already exists outside of the artist’s vivid imagination. Dr. Sara Lodge worked as a speechwriter to the late Kofi Annan. She describes a great speech as something that “connects with its audience at a visceral level and makes them feel the power of the moment: the truth that they are there at a unique occasion in history, when certain vital truths can be acknowledged, emotions shared, and change initiated.” The speech’s spontaneous and unrepeatable nature mean it must be right the first time. It’s a tall order, but the good news is the material is already made for you.

As with composing dialogue, the key is to listen closely to how people actually talk. Once you have identified the nuances and specific characteristics of the target voice, you have the building blocks for your speech. Sara’s experience tells her that “it’s important to listen to the speech rhythms of someone you write for.” This not only identifies the voice’s natural intonation but also the suitable speech techniques. For example, Sara recommends asking yourself: Is the speaker “naturally emphatic, like Margaret Thatcher, whose earnest vocal inflections made her speeches play well to a gangsta rap backing-track but also made her sound ponderous when telling a joke? Do they, like Tony Blair, make 'conversational’ exchanges sound convincingly informal, but have difficulty finishing off their speeches succinctly? You need to play to their strengths and avoid sentences that will expose their weaknesses.” Once you identify the specific techniques that will flatter the target voice, you have arrived at the blueprint of the speech you want to write.

Like dialogue in fiction, speechwriting can guide your audience through an engaging narrative simply by exposing the reality of the human voice. Sara notes that “we read as individuals, but we hear a speech collectively.” A speechwriter is therefore faced with the task of reaching an immensely wide range of people through the spoken word. Using the voice’s strengths and suitable figures of speech renders complex concepts audible and accessible to the general public. This demonstrates the impactful nature of simplification and showing no more than what is actually there.
Writing Scripts for Audio Format
For the longest time, I had been an outdoor “roving reporter,” making radio reports and interviews on just about everything. In 2017, I made the leap to an in-studio host, presenting more fulsome features and full episodes. This meant finding a unique focus. I launched a show covering the under-reported side of Brexit: the 27 other countries that will inevitably be affected by it. Given my background in European Studies (“Euro Studs”) and the current interest in the EU, it seemed rude not to.

While you may well hear broadcast correspondents and in-studio presenters mentioned in the same breath, their aims and approaches are entirely different. In a fast-paced interview, you converse unplanned; but in an episode or documentary, the speaker informs, educates, and explains something within their field of expertise. The external reporter’s speech is spontaneously determined by the interviewee’s answers, but that of the in-studio counterpart follows a logical thread. My first episode of What They Don’t Tell You About the EU focused on Wales and Brexit and took me a full week to script; I have never known a writer’s block like it. After listening back, I edited the script and re-recorded. It took me from August to January to get the first episode from script to air. Here’s what I wish I had known.

Scripting radio and podcast episodes is very different from writing for silent reading. When reading silently, you can read the topic in unlimited detail, keep track of quite long sentences, and reread any you initially struggle to grasp. Radio and podcast episodes do not offer these luxuries. A great tip comes from the late Irish broadcaster, Sir Terry Wogan: “Imagine you have just one listener who is only half listening.” Furthermore, potentially huge numbers of listeners mean that, like a speech, your presentation must be accessible to the general public. You should, therefore, script assuming at most a “Spark Notes” knowledge of the topic. This all brings us to two key points when writing for the audio format: simplicity and originality.
Achieving Simplicity and Originality
It is one thing to express something complicated in equally convoluted language, but rendering the point widely accessible is a whole other skill. Complex and obscure concepts become clearest in very simple language and short sentences. A lot of advanced academic texts are written like this, we just don’t register it. Why? Because it’s engaging. The clarity allows the message to resonate. To this end, don’t be afraid to use idioms or less formal language. Doing so doesn’t make it slang-y or Gen Z speak! If you are going to “shed light on” something overlooked, use that phrase—it’s perfectly acceptable. Don’t fall into the trap of writing and speaking with unnecessary formality just because the topic is highbrow. It convolutes and confuses the already demanding case you present, and the audience will not become informed.

In addition to reducing formality, you will need to present your ideas succinctly and in few words. This is a cliché that people talk about and talk about and talk about (the irony!) without prescribing any methodology, making it hard to address. Here’s what works for me.

I make a word bank of all the language crucial to the episode or feature. Envisage your lone audience member who is only half listening. You want that person’s ear to get a sense of the topic from the buzzwords alone. Furthermore, the fundamental vocabulary helps to strengthen your argument or presentation and removes any vagueness or ambiguity. It helps you to say precisely what you mean, rather than phrasing it poetically. Though this may be more natural to a writer, it clouds the meaning and is demanding on the listener. Once I have written my word bank, I start writing the script without limiting word count. For the reducing process, I look at each phrase in turn and find individual words that incorporate clusters of words within that phrase, essentially words that group them together.

For example, “Britain voted in favour of the EEC membership, but many say the country was already committed to the project,” could be said instead of, “Britain voting 'yes’ to the EEC was arguably retrospective.” Another example is: “The dress was sewn back together and repaired” versus “The dress was reupholstered.”

Once you get the hang of this, you will be able to explain increasingly complex ideas in increasingly simple terms.

I limit my sentences to three lines in size 12 font and a maximum of two prepositions per clause. This avoids breathlessness and makes the script nice and easy to follow. Don’t get overwhelmed by detail. If you are talking about trends with exceptions, use phrases like “virtually all,” “almost nothing,” or “overwhelmingly.” When shaving the language down, make sure that it sounds clear but not impersonal. Semantics are subjective and often illogical. For that reason, allow yourself common tautologies, ending a sentence with a preposition and the singular “they.” This is how people talk, and you want to establish a personalized bond with your audience rather than sounding like a robot or somebody from a past century. As with fictional dialogue and speechwriting, it should be a faithful reflection of how we talk in life.

To find originality for the audio piece, establish which aspects of the topic remain overlooked by the mainstream media and let that be your focus. There is simply no point in covering what innumerable alternative sources already have. Make certain to recap the basics of the issue at the start of the piece so that all of your listeners are on the same page even if new to the topic. Since your content should deviate from the predominant echo chamber, it may well be far removed or more complex than the mainstream and therefore, require deeper contextualization. To this end, the simplifying tips I have outlined will allow you to extract the issue from the overriding lens or paradigm, illuminate the overlooked aspects, and clearly deliver your resulting thesis. Just as fiction readers should be able to tell who is speaking, your listeners should know not only that your episode differs from the clichés but also how it does so.

While writing this piece, I have been anxious that readers might worry I suggest sacrificing all creativity in favour of Orwellian Newspeak. I am not proposing we forgo playing with language and meaning. Make sure you include the creative buzzwords and phrases of your own making in the initial word bank, so you can accommodate for showing them off.

I hope speech and dialogue have worked as examples that show how to externalize the imaginative, creative, and sometimes downright bizarre concepts made from writers thinking between the lines. Since there is little pre-existing terminology for this, go simple. Just as an artist shows us what the human eye overlooks, the writer should draw speech and dialogue from what is simply there. This does not replace the creative mindset but is another face of it.
Rosie MacLeod
Rosie MacLeod is a London-based translator, interpreter, and increasingly, a writer and radio host. She has written for Drunk Monkeys, World Literature Today, and the Journal of Austrian Studies. She is the host of What They Don't Tell You About the EU on East London Radio. You can listen to her radio work here: She tweets as @RosieMacLeod4. Get in touch via LinkedIn.
Craft Article: How to Have the Right Voice for Middle Grade
By Danica Davidson

Nearly everything following is a suggestion about how to write middle grade. These are great practices because—there is only one rule: when you write middle grade, you are a kid. You are not an adult who cares about paying bills, worrying about politicians, or setting up a date. You are a kid; so you care about how your best friend suddenly started acting mean toward you, that math doesn’t make sense no matter how much you study, and that your mom won’t buy you a new video game even though you’ve been really, really good. Even if things like bills, politicians, or dates come into the middle-grade novel plot—maybe the main character’s parent can’t pay the bills, there’s political upheaval in the story, or the character has a little crush on someone—you do not approach these things pontificating like an adult. You approach them with the thoughts and feelings of a child.
“There is only one rule: when you write middle grade, you are a kid.”
The Right Voice
Traditionally, books for kids have been written in third person, though first person is also a growing option. Whether you write in third person or first (or even second person), it still needs to be a child’s voice.

How do you find the right voice? Well, you were a kid once: what was your voice then? Some slang and technology may have changed, but the essence of the voice will be the same.

If you have writing you did as a child, whether for school or for fun, get that out and read it. Did you keep a diary? Or if all else fails, do you have home movies to remind yourself what life was like? If you have a child who writes, and if the child is fine with you reading their writing, see how they express themselves.

Do you remember the books that meant so much to you at this age? Get those out and read them. Remember what about these books spoke to you so much. It’s also good to read newer middle grade, not only for a marketing standpoint (if you’re interested in publication), but so you can compare modern trends to the books that touched you as a middle-grade reader and see what universal feelings resonate.

It might help to write out some of your own childhood memories. Don’t write them as an adult looking back (at least not for this exercise). For example, write what your desk looked like, how brand-new crayons smelled, all the energy and intimidation of the first day of school. As an adult, you can walk in and out of a classroom during the school day, and it’s your choice. As a kid, you don’t have a choice. This is your assigned classroom for the school day for the entire year, and this is where you stay. Remember what this feels like. These memories might spark some ideas, and these scenes might even be useable for a middle-grade book.
“The good thing about using slang is it can make the book feel especially applicable right now. But it can also date the book after a few years.”
Vocabulary Choices
Do you remember when you learned certain words? I often do. As a kid, I liked to show off when I learned new words; but sometimes, I was also cowed when adults would use words above my head because it felt as if they were mocking me and keeping me out of their conversations with that vocabulary. Were you the same?

When you’re writing, word choice always matters, but it can especially matter for kids because they’re still growing their vocabulary. And like adults, some kids will have bigger or smaller vocabularies than others.

I approach vocabulary differently depending on the project. When I wrote a Barbie comic for young readers, I figured parents would probably be reading it to them, so it was okay to use a few words kids might have trouble reading on their own, but they had to be words they would recognize.

If you’re writing for younger kids in middle grade, say the early chapter books like Junie B. Jones, they might be reading it with a parent or might be reading it on their own. In these books, I would be especially careful not to throw in big words because these books are often stepping stones to reading independently. When I first learned to read, I remember how some books were too intimidating. Once I had a better handle on reading, then I felt more comfortable reading books with a bigger vocabulary.

So, let’s say you’re writing middle grade above the level of Junie B. Jones. What level of vocabulary do you use? I’d say it depends on the genre. Are you writing fast adventure books, like I did with my Minecrafter fantasy series? With that, I stuck to words I figured kids would know. That type of book is meant to be fun and sped through.

Are you writing something more serious that you want kids to contemplate? Then it’s fine to put in words of a higher vocabulary (maybe even “contemplate”). I wrote a serious historical chapter book, and I use some words I’m sure are going to be new to kids, but I also include a glossary of historical terms. But also keep in mind who is using those words. Parents will likely have a bigger vocabulary than kids. A parent might say, “Can’t you be more articulate?” Odds are a kid won’t say that (though of course, there are exceptions!), but they might understand the word based on context and repetition.

Stay true to your characters. If you need to write the rough draft with your own terms and go back in to make it sound more child-friendly, that works, too!

Another thing to keep in mind is the use of slang words because they change. I tend to avoid slang, though I might use a little. The good thing about using slang is it can make the book feel especially applicable right now. But it can also date the book after a few years. On the other hand, if you’re doing a historical book, using the slang of the time can make it feel more authentic, as long as kids can understand it. The use or non-use of slang really ought to vary depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.
“Using a more basic vocabulary for some books can make it more inclusive to readers of different abilities, but it’s important not to dumb it down.”
Authenticity and Child-Friendly
Middle grade spans the ages of seven through twelve when you count both chapter books and tween books in this category. That’s five years where kids go through a lot of growth—physically, mentally, and emotionally. If you’re writing for older middle grade, your character might get big crushes. If you’re writing for younger middle grade, things are probably a lot more innocent. If you’re writing for older middle grade, your character might take good care of how they look. If you’re writing for younger middle grade, that mud puddle over there might be really tempting. Keep these age differences in mind.

Colorful language often helps in middle grade. In a book for young adult (YA) readers, you might say, “My mother kept asking me to clean my room.” In middle grade, you might say, “My mom asked me a million times to clean my room.” We know she didn’t really ask a million times, but it gets across the voice and how it feels to the child protagonist, as if she’s asked a million times.

Adults (usually) learn to keep some thoughts to themselves. They learned this lesson because of the many thoughts that came out of their mouths without filtering as a child. Kids, on the other hand, tend to be brutally honest, especially when they’re younger. They tell you how they feel. And when you’re writing in their voice, that’s how you feel, too.
Common Mistakes
A good middle-grade author does not treat kids as if they’re stupid. Using a more basic vocabulary for some books can make it more inclusive to readers of different abilities, but it’s important not to dumb it down. Sometimes, books come with messages, and it’s important that the message weaves its way into the story, so the reader appreciates it instead of feeling hit over the head with it. Lecturing or preaching will sound like school and/or parents: watch how fast the kids tune it out.

Another common mistake I see is using vocabulary words that just don’t sound right. Try this:

My teacher instituted a new rule.


My teacher made a new rule.

Oh, okay.

Some other possible middle-grade rewrites for the sentence:

My teacher started a new rule.
My teacher hates kids, and that’s why she started a new rule.
I love my teacher’s new rule because it finally got the kids in the back row to stop bugging the rest of us.

Let’s try another example.

I thought there was a legitimate problem in the cafeteria.


I thought there was a major problem in the cafeteria.

Oh, okay.

Some other possible middle-grade rewrites for the sentence:

I can’t believe what’s going on in the cafeteria! You have to see it to believe it.
There was a problem in the cafeteria, and I could smell it a mile away.
Have you ever eaten food so gross you taste it all day? That’s all they serve in my cafeteria. Yuck.

Some kids will go around using words like “institute” and “legitimate,” but most won’t. Why do I bring up these two words specifically? Because I recently saw them used in a middle-grade book, and it just didn’t ring true to me.

One good way to make sure you’re not making mistakes is to go to the readers themselves. If you have a kid in the middle-grade age range or know someone with a kid who’s interested, you can read your manuscript to them or let them read it themselves—kids can be beta readers, too. Let them tell you what feels real and what doesn’t. They know better than anyone.
Danica Davidson
Danica Davidson is the author of eighteen books and comics for children and young adults, including the middle grade Holocaust book I Will Protect You (Little, Brown), which she created with survivor Eva Mozes Kor. She has written thirteen middle-grade Minecrafter adventure books, YA books on how to draw in the manga style, and comics in both the Barbie and Tales from the Crypt franchises. Find out more about her at
From WOW's Blog, The Muffin
Ways to Make Rejections Easier on Yourself
by Nicole Pyles

Ah, rejection. It's the bane of the life of a writer and often what leads us to feel miserable about our writing future. However, I have a few techniques I use to make it easier for me to get rejected and move on from it. I hope by sharing it with you, the sting of rejection becomes less painful.

Ask the Book Doctor: About Gerunds, Participles, and Dangling Participles
by Bobbie Christmas

Q: One of my critique partners said I use too many gerunds and participles and said I have several dangling participles. I thought I knew the parts of speech, but I’m not sure what the person is talking about.

A: In simple terms, a participle is a form of a verb (often ending in “ing”) that is used as a modifier, as in the following: the dancing bear.

A gerund is a present participle used as a noun, as in the following: Sleeping nightly is essential.

The use of too many words that end in “ing” can slow the pace, weaken writing, and become repetitive. They often turn potentially strong verbs into weaker forms: nouns or adjectives.

Goal Setting: The Difference Between Push Goals and Pull Goals
by Sue Bradford Edwards

Earlier this week, I read an interesting piece at Make a Living Writing on motivation and goal setting. What? Why am I talking about goal setting in September? Couldn’t I just leave this alone until December 30th? I could, but Marcia egged me on when she wrote about rebooting your writing life.

A few days ago, I posted a message to my accountability group. (Hi, Ladies!) As I was doing this I noticed, I hadn’t even bothered to post about goals in months. I’ve just been toodling along, doing my own thing.

Scary Scams
by Cathy C. Hall

October doesn’t have the corner on the market when it comes to scary stuff. Just a few weeks ago, on a hot summer evening, my brother and his wife had the scare of their life.

It was past 11:30 when my sister-in-law’s cell phone rang, waking them from a dead sleep. The name on the phone came up as their thirty-something daughter. She and her husband live in the same city but across town from them. It was unusual for a late-night call so hearts were already racing. My sister-in-law answered her cell to hear this:


Jump Start Your Creativity with a Pre-Writing Routine
by Kelly L. Stone

Time to write is sparse, so you need to sit down and get going quickly. Even if you only have 15 or 20 minutes to get words on the page, springing into a creative state of mind is as simple as one-two-three when you establish a pre-writing routine.

A routine, or doing the same tasks in the same order before you sit down and write, establishes a habit and engages the subconscious mind; you can train your brain to shift into an alpha mode just by creating a routine. It helps you make the transition from day-to-day life (work, kids, chores) to your creative project quickly and easily.

You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover
by Sioux Roslawski

... Or can you? Perhaps more importantly, do you?

I've seen this book for years as I spent way too many hours time in bookstores. Never even took it off the shelf to read the inside flap or the back... all because the cover (in my opinion) looks too sweet. I don't do things that smack of saccharine. So, this book never appealed to me.

This summer, a good friend (Tracy, who has impeccable taste in books) was giving away some books, along with other teacher friends. This book was in the heap. I picked it up, and Tracy said, "That was mine. I had an extra copy."

"It's good?" I asked.

Sometimes Our Story Has to Find Shelter to Be Told
by Sheila Bender

Author Brenda Miller coined the term “hermit crab essay” when teaching her students a personal essay structure that delivers surprising results. Not only has the term become widely used, it has also educated many about hermit crabs: anomuran decapod crustaceans that have adapted to occupy empty scavenged mollusk shells to protect their soft abdominal exoskeleton.

Important to note: they must find shelter produced by other organisms or risk being defenseless.

How often do we sit down to write something so important to us that is difficult to start? Or perhaps we have only a hazy idea or feeling that something is there to be written, but we don’t know how we will find out what it is. Either way, we may feel stymied from defenseless in the face of the enormous task.

Is AI Created Material Really Art (Or Real Writing)?
by Nicole Pyles

It started out with someone I connected to on Facebook — and forgive me for saying so — who all of a sudden shared art that surprised me. Why did it surprise me? It was fantastic. And I didn't know her to be an artist (of course, it was possible she had this low-key amazing skill that she all of a sudden decided to reveal to others).

Secretly, though, I wondered, where on earth did she get such talent and why has she waited to share it until now?

Finally, a few posts of hers later, I complimented her art, and asked: how did she do that? It looked so real and professional and creative. I had to know. What was her medium? How did she make these images?

She told me: an AI-art program.

What's in a Domain Name?
by Cathy C. Hall

A dozen or so years ago (Eek!), I decided to create a website for my freelancing business and I’d need a domain. A quick search brought up about 2 gazillion Cathy Halls and so I opted for Cathy C. Hall, using my middle initial to differentiate myself from the pack. Luckily, no one had my name and so was my first domain (and website). But after a few years, I decided to combine my freelancing and children’s writing; I was not so sure how I’d do that. I canceled my website and allowed my domain to lapse whilst I gave some thought to my writing future.

Checking Out Virtual Book Clubs
by Renee Roberson

Years ago, when my oldest child was an infant, I heard about a book club a local mom’s group was organizing. I was so excited and desperate to talk to other like-minded moms that I purchased the book, read it from cover to cover, and showed up at the restaurant. I didn’t see anyone I knew, so I grabbed a drink and waited for the meeting to start. I believe we talked about the book for approximately five minutes, before everyone began breaking off into groups and chatting among themselves about their lives. Because I didn’t know anyone, I stood off awkwardly to the side. Disappointed, I left the club early and never went back, vowing that book clubs were a waste of time. I still love to read, and a few years ago noticed virtual book clubs were beginning to pop up.

Listen for the Music in Your Writing
by Barbara Noe Kennedy

I’m a travel journalist, so it seems incongruous that poetry might have anything to do with my writing. On the contrary, poetry has everything to do with my writing—after culling the best ideas, of course. And this goes for any type of writing, whether you’re penning a novel, a food-related story, even a business article.

Think of the English language as a musical instrument. You are using that instrument to create great music. While the meaning of every word you use is imperative, you can be like a poet and complement that meaning by choosing words that provide accompanying sounds, whether to signal peace, discord, fear, love, disgust, or whatever. Poets, after all, are masters at being as concise and succinct as possible in their writing. So why shouldn’t you?

WOW Classes Starting Soon
Leaping Worlds: Writing Historical Fiction and Time-Travel Stories

5 weeks: Sept 30 - Nov 4

Have a favorite historical era? Love to research and read and write about different time periods or future worlds? Both historical fiction and time-travel stories keep pages turning by exploring worlds unlike our own. In this five-week class, we’ll discover the exciting diversity of settings, characterizations, and genres that encompass both historical fiction and time-travel/sci-fi/fantasy narratives. Led by Melanie Faith!
Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults

4 weeks: Oct 2 - Oct 30

Biographies, science, history, how-to, and more. Nonfiction is published in book form, online and in both magazines and e-zines. Not only do teachers and school librarians seek nonfiction for their students, children and teens read it for fun. In this course, you will learn how to organize your material, write and revise not only the manuscript you workshop in class but future projects as well. Led by Sue Bradford Edwards, an author with over 600 sales, including 30+ traditionally published nonfiction books.
Life's a Bitch and Then You Write: A Three-Step Technique to Strengthen Your Work-in-Progress

3 weeks: Oct 3 - Oct 24

No matter what happens in life, the writing must go on if you want to achieve—and keep—success as a writer. In this class you’ll learn Kelly L. Stone’s 3-step technique, developed during a particularly difficult time in her own life to keep her focused and on track with her writing career, that you can also use when life’s challenges and adversities threaten to toss you off your writing path.
Travel Writing 101 Webinar

Wednesday, Oct 5th, 2-4 PM ET

No matter how many times an author is told “your work doesn’t fit our catalog” or “it’s just not right for us,” an author will always assume their book is being rejected because of the writing. So why is your book getting rejected? Is the plot not strong enough? Are the characters in 2D when they’re supposed to be 3D? Or maybe there are too many grammatical errors. Whatever the reasons, you can’t fix your book if no one will tell you what’s wrong with it. That’s what this class is all about.
Creating the Five Minute Memoir

6 weeks: Oct 10 - Nov 20

Imagine writing a book-length memoir as a collection of short memoir pieces—that take five minutes each for the reader (longer to write, of course). In our six weeks together you will explore six examples of short memoir, copy the successful strategies those authors have used, and at the end of our time together, have help putting your six memoir pieces together or seeing the six as stitches you can thread through longer writings and chapters. Led by Sheila Bender!
The Power of Storytelling 101 Webinar

Wednesday, Oct 12th, 2-4 PM ET

When all is said and done, great writing is about great storytelling. In the simplest terms, the secret sauce is to share your personal experiences, vulnerabilities, and humanity. But you also need to understand how to construct a story, create tension, craft memorable characters, and put it all together. We’ll look at important aspects of storytelling, using successful examples from all walks of writing. Your takeaways will be exciting ideas, thoughts on how to structure your story, and insights into how to bring it all to a glorious conclusion.
Courage gives us a voice and compassion gives us an ear. Without both, there is no opportunity for empathy and connection. – Brené Brown