Category Archives: Get Published

5 prompt Friday

         Here we go again…

  1. The empty feeling in my stomach spread to my chest and head, threatening to pull me inside out.
  2. How do I say this to you?
  3. On her wrist was a bracelet made from multi-colored paperclips.
  4. His voice crackled through the walkie-talkie, “The Eagle Has Landed.”
  5. Are you ready to do this?

Have a story or prompt to share? Post it here : ) Happy writing!


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Filed under 5 Prompt Friday, Advice, Author Interviews, Believe, books, characters, Commit to 3, contests, Creative Essays, Deadlines, Education, emotion, Events, Fiction, Friday Finds, Fun Stuff, Get Published, Give Aways, goals, Inspiration, Little Things, Lost Things, Markets, NaNoWriMo, Non Fiction, Novels, Organization, Perseverance, Platform/Marketing, procrastination, Queries, Reader Wednesdays, Rest, teaching, Thankful Thursday, The Motherhood Muse, Uncategorized, Voice, writer markets, writers, writers block, writing inspiration, Writing prompts, Writing Space, Young Adults

Horror at Hawkin’s Forest (via Story Writing Express)

{Courtesy of}

Tuesdays With…

Is a weekly series of author interviews, guest posts by agents, editors, freelance writers and now – my very own Young Writing Students!

I teach Young Writers and LOVE to publicize their work. If you are  a current or former student of mine, email me and we’ll schedule a guest post featuring one of your short stories, or a link to your own blog! mjcwriter”at”

And now, courtesy of my son, David’s, new writing blog…

This is a story I wrote a long while ago for school, so there will be no gore or blood in this one.

Horror at Hawkins Forest

Yet another suspense brilliantly written by: David Campbell III

Snow and frozen leaves crackled underneath Jim’s steel-toe work boots. “Great!  Now it’s 6:00!  Cheri’s going to kill me!  This is the second time this darn car has run out of gas on me.  Maybe I could just call her on my- darn it!  Forgot my cell phone back at … Read More

via Story Writing Express

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Filed under Get Published, Inspiration, teaching, Young Adults

Young Writers Workshop: Jump In!

     FRoG (Friends of the Gifted & Talented) has opened registration for Super Saturdays!

Young Writers (grades 3-8):  Come out to ONeill Middle School in Downers Grove, IL to learn and write with an award-wining author – Me!

Workshops are filling fast – REGISTER TODAY!!


Writing Workshop I  Grades: 3-8,  50 min classes: 10 am

Five weeks: Jan 29-Feb 26, 2011 $45

Do you love making up stories? Learn how to bring out the stories within you in this exciting class. Improve your writing skills by using the same process and style strategies used by professional writers to bring your creative ideas to life. Through reading and working together with other students, your inner author will emerge! This is also a perfect opportunity to prepare for the PTA’s Reflections program.


Writing Workshop II  Grades: 4-8, 50 min classes: 11 am

Five weeks: Jan 29-Feb 26, 2011 $45

Are you ready to take your writing to the next level? Young writers will learn advanced techniques to improve their craft: how and when to use symbolism, subplots, transitions, figurative language and more.  We will learn how to give and receive constructive criticism in a workshop setting. Come prepared with a first draft of a short story or several chapters of a novel-in-progress and we’ll help you make it shine!  This is the class you need if publication is your goal.

Prerequisite: Writing Workshop I or Writing Sample submitted to Instructor


“Thank you for being a great teacher to Grace. Her love of writing has grown because of you!” ~ Katie, Downers Grove Parent

“Mariah had such a great time learning from a pro.” ~ Reyna, Downers Grove Parent

“Thank you for all your help! I couldn’t have gotten this far without you!” ~Melissa, 8th Grade Student

“Garrett wishes your class was everyday, now that’s exciting!!!” ~ Shari, Downers Grove Parent of two writing students

“Yemi and her mother have nothing but great things to say about your workshops. ” ~ Reyna, Bolingbrook Parent

“You’re like the Dear Abby of Writing! U Rock!” ~Kate, 7th Grade student

“Every time I would pick up Jay after the workshop he was almost hysterical.  If you know my son, he is very composed most of the time.  But he would drop all his inhibitions and brainstorm through the workshop.  He really ENJOYED the writing classes with you.  The classes prompted him to take his journal with him while travelling rather than a hand held video game.” ~ Rupa, Downers Grove Parent

“Thanks again for including Anika – she had a blast. ” ~ Newenka, Darien Parent

 “Allison was very excited about writing the whole week.  Your “what if…” exercise gave her a fun way to think about things to write about (at home, for fun, when she only has 15 mins or so to do some writing).” ~Betsy, Downers Grove Parent

 “YOU ARE THE BEST! Never before have I had such a fabulous writing teacher. I want to write books that get published and turned into movies, like my uncle’s. I want to do this for my passion and my future fame. You rock Mary Jo!” ~ Katie, 5th grade student

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Filed under Education, Events, Get Published, Young Adults

Stephen King Gave Me Permission

created by Mark A. Hicks, illustrator.

I just finished reading On Writing, by The King of Suspense & Horror. Gleaned many little tidbits from his experienced words. I’ll share them with you, sprinkled here and there.

But the statement that stuck with me, giving me back my (writing) mojo was this: King asks

Are you waiting for someone to give you permission to take time for reading and writing all you want?

Well, here it is. Your official permission to do it!

I’m taking that permission and running with it! How?

“Reading” via audio books every day on my commute to and from work (about a 2hr round trip ordeal)

Writing down ideas as they hit me – in the car, walking, lounging with family. I simply excuse myself or pull out my mini notebook and pen and jot images, situations, what if’s, quirky snippets of dialogue.  I also need to put my portable audio recorder to use again ; )

RE-Writing my novel draft – one scene at a time. I’m currently on week 3 of a 6-week course REVISE FOR PUBLICATION, taught by Jordan Rosenfeld. So far – I’ve learned tons on the process of breaking down the novel and how to search for and fill the holes, how to dislodge and dump the extraneous details (and even characters!) and how to make backstory work by weaving in threads instead of quilting on big gaudy patches.

Reading a few books every time I get a few minutes alone (before bed, before morning shower, etc.) I’m reading in the genre I’m writing: YA Fiction, as well as Rosenfeld’s writing reference book: Make a Scene

The result of this permission granted time? I am super psyched about my novel again, ideas are ramming into me left and right and I’m dreaming nightly and waking up with vivid pictures to record. I feel alive again. I feel like a writer again.

Are you waiting for permission?

By the power vested in me (ala’ Stephen King) I hear by grant you permission to WRITE! READ! and WRITE some more!


Would you like receive inspiration for other creative ventures? SUBSCRIBE to this blog – you never know when the inspiration will stirke me, and when it does – it’ll strike your inbox 🙂


Filed under Advice, Get Published, Inspiration

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: The Espressologist

Surprise readers! Today we have a local YA author, Kristina Springer, in a Writers Inspired exclusive interview (and book giveaway!) Doesn’t that just sound tweet-worthy? Well, go ahead and Tweet it, baby! But be sure to add your comments or questions here – one lucky winner will be randomly selected to win Kristina’s hot YA book The Espressologist.

Interview by: Mary Jo Campbell

  • On YA themes:  What are your thoughts on relationships and issues teens face today and how do you incorporate theses themes into your books?

I think they are similar to the relationships and issues I had as a teen only a lot more intense. It’s way harder to be a teen now with all of the technology we have. When I was a teen no one carried cell phones and the Internet wasn’t as big as it is now. Geez, I could only make one phone call a day for a max of 30 min (sounds like prison huh? J ). But now if you’re having any trouble at school it follows you home on facebook and twitter and texting etc. It seems a whole lot harder to navigate through the teen years today. I try to stay really aware to what teens are dealing with now and reflect it in my writing.

  • On YA Characters: How do you research and stay current on teen-speak, dress and gestures when writing a realistic teen character?

I never grew up and I watch way too much reality TV (I love The Hills and can’t believe it’s over.) and teen dramas. I obsessively read magazines like STAR and I’m online constantly so it’s easy to research what’s hot right now. Oh, and since I do most of my writing in coffee shops I occasionally eavesdrop so beware! J

  • On YA feedback: What has been the response from your readers on your books (any ARC’s out on My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours?) How do your readers relate to your stories? What about parents/teachers?

It’s been really great! Reviews are rolling in now on My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours and so far it’s been all good. So I’m very happy about that! And there have been lots of awesome reviews of The Espressologist and I’ve gotten really great letters from readers (both teens and adults). Most fans tell me about their coffee drink preferences and how they match up with their boyfriends/husbands. There are a lot of Espressology believers!

  • On Writing: Your website says you drafted your first book in FOUR MONTHS, not to mention your role as wife and mother of four!) Did your experience as a technical writer prepare you for writing quickly? Can you tell us about your writing process from idea stage through rough draft, revision and querying agents?

Wow, great question! No, technical writing is pretty different from fiction writing. Although, I learned to type really fast as a technical writer. And all of my great grammar skills came from that time in my life. Of course, I’ve since learned my grammar skills aren’t quite as awesome as I thought they were. J Actually I think being a mom has helped me to write so quickly. Lots of writers work full-time at writing and my kids are little so I’m with them full-time. So whenever I do get a break, like late in the evening or someone else is taking care of the kids for a bit, I need to make the most of my time.

As for my writing process, I love to just sit down and let the book fly out of me without any hesitation or worrying about structure etc. With The Espressologist I wrote the entire book from the same table at my local Starbucks. Then I revised it as much as possible and sent it off to my critique partners. Then I revised more based on their notes and when I felt the book was ready I started querying agents to see if they wanted to read it.

  • On Deals: Tell us how you got a two-book deal! Are the two books related? Was the second book drafted or completed when the first book went to auction?

My agent sent out the submission to a bunch of publishers. Four publishers wanted The Espressologist so my agent then set up an auction and each publisher offered their best deal. I went with Farrar, Straus, and Giroux and they bought The Espressologist and a second unnamed book. I had no idea what the book would be at the time of sale so no, they weren’t related. I wrote My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours last year and that became the second book in the deal.

  • On Experience: What has been the best part of this whole writing, publishing, promoting experience for you so far and why?

Oooh, that’s hard. It’s been a lot of good! It might be a tie between first selling the books and seeing my first book on a shelf in a bookstore. As for why they’re the best, well, both were dreams that seemed so far out there and reaching them was amazing.

  • On Teaching: Can you offer some tips for young writers starting out?

Don’t give up! There will be a lot of rejection but you have to keep plowing ahead. And get critique partners who write in the same genre as you. You want people who will tell you the truth and rip your stuff apart and offer advice. Not the kind that say “oh it’s so good, you’re brilliant!” That’s your mom’s job. J

  • On Tomorrow & Beyond: Tell us what’s next for you and your books!

I’m busily promoting My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours (release 8/31/10) and finishing edits on my Fall 2011 book, Pumpkin Princess.

THE ESPRESSOLOGIST, *In stores now* from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

MY FAKE BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOURS, 8/31/10, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

PUMPKIN PRINCESS, Fall 2011, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Leave a comment or question to be entered! (Winner announced tomorrow, Aug 3. US residents only, please.)


Are YOU local? Sign up for the Young Writers’ Summer Studio-  workshops begin August 9th! Kristina Springer is making a special guest appearance to discuss writing and publishing with young writers. Email me for info today!


Filed under Advice, Author Interviews, books, Get Published, Give Aways, writers, Young Adults

Exciting News for Young Writers


St. Charles, Illinois—July 7, 2010—Medallion Press Inc. is pleased to announce the opening of its
new Ya-Ya line, which will be added to its family of fiction and nonfiction imprints, including
the Medallion Masterpiece Collection and the new Young Adult and Christian Literature lines.
Ya-Ya, which stands for “Young Adults writing for Young Adults,” will showcase aspiring
authors between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. The Ya-Ya line will be comprised of a
variety of fiction genres to be released in print and e-book formats.
Medallion Press is thrilled to provide young and aspiring authors with access to a broad
reading audience. The editors are currently seeking Ya-Ya submissions, and guidelines are
available on the company Web site,
Be sure to check back often for news and updates on the Ya-Ya imprint and the many
innovative developments at Medallion Press. Learn More…

About Medallion Press:
Medallion Press, Inc. is a genre fiction and nonfiction publisher dedicated to creating the
highest quality product, both inside and out. For more information, visit

Do you have a manuscript ready to submit? How about a query? Not sure where to begin? REGISTER TODAY for my one-week Summer Writing Studio.

Young writers entering 4th-8th grade

Downers Grove, IL

Monday-Friday: August 9-13, 2010

9am-noon everyday

email me for more info: mjcwriter”at”comcast”dot”net


Filed under Education, Get Published, Young Adults

An Interview with Christina Katz About Author Mama

April 2010

Why would you do an e-book after two traditionally published books?

Like most traditionally published authors, who blog, teach and speak, I have a backlog of quality content to draw on and some of it, though not all of it, will lend itself to the e-book format. So I plan to write several e-books over time and Author Mama is the first. I have old sketchbooks full of ideas I’ve had over the years, which will lend themselves well to e-formats. Equal opportunity access to e-publishing technology offers all of us writers a lot more creative leeway than we have traditionally had, which can lead to exciting and fun possibilities.

Besides being in e-book format, how is Author Mama different from Writer Mama and Get Known Before the Book Deal?

Author Mama is the story behind how I landed my book deal for Writer Mama and then wrote the book. I wanted to describe in play-by-play form what writing a non-fiction book is like for the benefit of moms considering the possibility with the lessons I learned along the way. One of my students who is on the verge of querying agents with a nonfiction book proposal says that Author Mama “goes there.” In other words, it deals squarely with the rollercoaster ride that most first-time authors experience. The format of my traditionally published books is not as driven by my personal experience, even though it informs them both. In Author Mama, I include all of the books that I recommend first-time authors read before, during, and after the book deal, so they can become as informed and empowered as possible.

Who are the intended readers for Author Mama?

Well, my two traditionally published books don’t target the same exact audience and neither does Author Mama. When I wrote Author Mama, I had my Writer Mama readers in mind, but of those readers, I was specifically focused on anyone seriously considering writing a book someday. Not every writer mama wants to write a book someday. Some are perfectly happy writing and publishing articles. So Author Mama is a slice (a writing book), of a slice (for moms), of a slice (who are considering becoming an author some day), and therefore too small of an audience for a traditional publisher. But many of my students and fans have this question and would like to answer it for themselves. Author Mama is for them.

Did you have any hesitations about self-publishing?

Considering how much content I have sitting around languishing on my hard drives, I am sorry that it’s taken me this long. The person I had the hardest time convincing was myself. I’ve had some hang-ups about e-books that I’ve had to get over in order to move forward. As long as my work continues to serve the best interests of my readers, why wouldn’t I self-publish? I certainly have a lot more to offer than I would just letting it sit around collecting virtual dust. At this point in time, I feel like it would be foolish not to e-publish, even as I continue to write traditional books.

Are publishers anxious about traditional authors self-publishing? Doesn’t this undermine their business?

I think, when it comes to self-publishing the opportunity always exists to take the enlightened view or the fearful view. I have heard people in publishing make comments that authors self-publishing is terrible news, which is absurd. The fearful attitude is, “Oh no, if that author can self-publish, then we lose.” The enlightened view is that when the people you partner with are more successful it’s good for you too because it raises all boats. Besides, when all the folks involved in a partnership are empowered and come together because they want to be there, that’s good for the relationship. It’s important to have good boundaries and communication in business and know the difference between what’s yours, what’s not yours, and what is joint ownership. When you keep these things in mind, and communicate clearly, there is really nothing to fear but fear itself.

How do you keep people from “stealing” your e-book?

I can’t stop people from stealing my e-book. I am completely powerless over that aspect of e-publishing, as most of us are. However, my target audience is not teenage boys and young men, who are supposedly the folks who do most of the pirating, according to the experts who study these trends. So I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. Also I don’t plan on giving my e-books away to avoid the impression that they are “freebies,” whereas with a traditional book I always do a lot of giveaways to get the content out into circulation. E-books are a lot easier to circulate. I can send one to you in seconds. So at this time, I don’t see the point in giving them away and encouraging others to share them without permission. I’d prefer to sell them to a smaller, more exclusive audience, who will see the value and, hopefully, respect my copyright.

What are three major points you hope aspiring writers learn from reading Author Mama?

That landing a traditional book deal and delivering a well-written book is possible but not easy by any means.

That someone else has survived the rollercoaster of emotions that come part and parcel with a first traditional book deal and you can too.

That some writers actually give up along the way and don’t succeed at delivering their first book but this won’t happen to the writers who read Author Mama because forewarned is forearmed.

Is this book only for nonfiction writers or can fiction writers benefit from it too?

Author Mama is specifically about my nonfiction book writing process, which is different from the process for other genres like fiction or memoir. However, a lot of my readers, who write in other genres, have said over the years that they find a lot of takeaways in my nonfiction experience. Also, I fully expect Author Mama to convince a few readers to try writing a nonfiction book, who might have only considered themselves other types of writers or not even writers at all.

Can I order a print copy of Author Mama?

When the book comes out in the final version in May, I will make it available for purchase in print-on-demand format, as well as all the other e-formats. During April, while it’s in beta, Author Mama is available in PDF format, which means you can print it out and put it in a binder yourself, if you prefer a hard copy. I’ve invited the first readers to participate in the process, so I’ve included a feedback form with the e-book but participation is voluntary. However to sweeten the deal, I will provide those who share feedback on the beta version with the final version for free, after it’s updated in PDF form.

How can I order this e-book for someone as a gift?

Sure you can. When you place your order, simply submit their e-mail address in the notes section and I will e-mail the copy to them instead of to you.

Thanks for your questions about Author Mama. If you’d like to learn more, please visit

About Christina Katz, The Author Mama

{Christina Katz}

Christina Katz has been teaching writers to cultivate thriving careers for the past decade. Many of her students start by writing short articles and work hard and long until they eventually succeed in landing traditional book deals. Christina is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise A Writing Career Alongside Your Kids, both from Writer’s Digest Books.

In addition to writing books and articles, Christina publishes a weekly e-zine, The Prosperous Writer, hosts The Northwest Author Series, travels to writing conferences and literary events, and coaches a hundred writers a year. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia College Chicago and a BA from Dartmouth College. She lives in an idyllic cottage in Wilsonville, Oregon with her husband, daughter and far too many pets.

Keep up with Christina, if you can, at

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Filed under Advice, Author Interviews, books, Get Published