Tag Archives: writer mama

Celebrate Good Times, C’mon On!!

“There’s a party goin’ on right here, a celebration to last throughout the year…”

Actually, the PARTY is here. Christina Katz showcases the PROUDEST moments from 40 writing mamas! Read for  inspiration, laughter, tears and motivation. Continue the party on your own blog! What is your proudest writing moment so far? Raise your beverage of choice and cheer!

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Filed under Inspiration, Platform/Marketing, writers

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas (esp. for mama writers!)

{photo: ancestry.com}Sure flowers are fragrant and beautiful. But they die. And chocolates are yummy, but are also counterproductive to almost all Mom’s trek on the healthy track. So,  why not gift that special mama writer something she’ll USE and LOVE?

Here are some suggestions I’d personally LOVE (wink, wink!)

  • Any books and /or classes by THE Writer Mama, Christina Katz. Click the link for complete details
  • Gift certificate to her favorite coffee or tea shop – THEN, pack her writing bag and set it by the door with a note that she has an afternoon (or evening) to herself and her muse…
  • Who’s her favorite author? Check out your local indie bookstores for similar titles. They may even have some autographed editions of a favorite book or collection. Personally, I have two fantastic novels on my wish list: Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson and Paint it Black , by Janet Fitch (read them both, but would like my own copies to peruse and study the craft of language and transitions)
  • A beautiful journal – but not too pretty that she’ll be afraid to write random “crap” inside. Because we all need a place to get the crap out, in order to find the gem of truth.
  • Heard of Writer’s Market? There’s a less expensive version I’m thinking of purchasing (specifically for short fiction, essays and poetry): Literary Database to find, submit and track stories, poems and more.
  • Something funky, cool or even homemade for her desk. Get creative! (think: alternates to pencil cups or bookmarks or push pins or  file organizer)
  • How about some inspiration she can put her hands on? I’m giving away my collection of motivating/inspirational quotes. All typed in a single word doc, I’ve been collecting quotes from known and unknown to blog about, write about or even ponder over. ENTER to win:
  1. Leave a comment in this post
  2. Follow and/or subscribe to this blog
  3. Tweet this post
  4. Post a link here on your blog
  5. Post on Facebook

I will randomly select 4 winners – the more entries, the better your chances! I’ll scoop up the entries and send the packet of quotes to you via email on Saturday, May 8, in time for Mothers Day!


Filed under books, contests, Fun Stuff, Give Aways

Good News x 2

In reading Christina Katz‘s second great writing resource, Get Known Before the Book Deal, I learned that writers should toot their own horn when they achieve little successes. How else would our readers/followers know what we’re up to?

So, taking Ms. Katz’s advice, I’d like to “toot” about my recent successes in publication and contest entries!

Underwired, a KY based women’s print magazine, just accepted my essay “Cravings” for publication in their upcoming June ’09 issue.  I wrote “Cravings” last September, with a different market in mind. I wrote the essay from my perspective on motherhood and our needs to give in to guilty little pleasures. I wrote, rewrote, sent to my writing buddies for critiques, rewrote again and finally submitted to skirt! magazine, who politely and promptly rejected my essay due to “no space.”

Of course it was a minor blow, equivalent to a small crescent shaped shiner under my right eye, but I went down my list of markets and sent the essay out again, this time to Imperfect Parent.  My essay seemed to fit their tongue-in-cheek humor and bold observations on being a parent without losing your identity. Weeks, then months went by with no reply and an updated message on their website stated they were “backlogged” and no longer accepting submissions.  So, I emailed the editor, again, and professionally stated I’d be pulling my essay from their consideration if I hadn’t heard back by a specific date. No reply and off to the market guidelines I returned.

So, you can imagine my elation when the editor of Underwired replied via email with a “Congratulations! We’ll see you in print…” Not to mention the attached contract that spelled out payment and rights for my publication of “Cravings.”

The lesson in this? Keep moving forward. Don’t lose momentum, don’t lose your faith or your focus. Your essay may be personal to you, but editors have a job to do and though they may appreciate your wit or tone, it may not fit for their publication.

My second “toot” is about another exciting email I received a few days ago, in regards to my fiction entry for the 100 Words or Fewer Writing Contest.  This email said I was at the top of the mountain where the air was thin. My entry “In Father Brannigan’s Room” had made it past two levels of judging and is now in the running for 1st, 2nd or 3rd place! 100 little words, crafted so carefully, rewritten about 20 times, paragraphs cut and pasted in different order to achieve the maximum effect of “wow” in such a small space.  And I deliriously wait,  with little oxygen.

Who thought after writing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where every word counts and even contractions are banished to maximize  number of words, I’d be able to cut out prepositions, articles and adverbs to ruthlessly minimize word count and tell a full story with less than 100 words. An achievement in itself. I’m proud to have even accepted the challenge.

And when the winners are announced in mid-June, I’ll be back to “toot” some more (hopefully!)

Keep writing and submitting my friends! And please share your successes here and EVERYWHERE!


Filed under Advice, Believe, contests, Creative Essays, emotion, Inspiration, Perseverance, Platform/Marketing

A Mom Moment

David missed school most of this week due to  sore throat, body aches and a low grade fever. With the swine flu scare, we kept him home and visited the doctor. All is well, I’m happy to say and we are not one of those pandemic statistics.

Isn’t that part of a mom’s repertoire? Playing nurse/doctor, among other things. When a child is sick, the whole family slows down, the schedule is interrupted and your writing is… yeah right!

Feeling relieved that everyone is happy and healthy again, I was also overwhelmed with everything I didn’t get done this week.

I was emptying the ream of papers David brought home after being out for days and found with his poetry instruction packet (from April’s Poetry Month) a little handmade booklet.  Crayon drawn images, stapled with David’s own poetry written inside and on the front flap was  “This book is dedicated to: my mom because she inspires me to write.”

He’s 10.  Enough said.

Happy Mother’s Day to all! Enjoy your children, the smiles they bring you, the memories which fill you and the inner glow and warmth from being called “Mom”


Filed under Advice, Believe, emotion, writers

Guest Blogger: Christina Katz

If you’re a follower of my blog, then Christina Katz needs almost no introduction.   But I’m gonna do the formals, anyway!

Two years ago, I read a concise yet very informative article in Writer’s Digest on how to raise your kids while still raising your writing career. Writer Mama became a part of my vocabulary. I entered (and lost) Christina’s essay contest, which made me realize how much I needed that book. I became a regular visitor on the Writer Mama Riffs blog (before the book’s logo was even in the header!)

I applied for Christina’s scholarship to her Writing & Publishing the Short Stuff class, and lost. I applied again and Won! That was the beginning of a whirlwind of writing-related successes for me.

See, everywhere I read or browsed, I’d see Christina’s name and I wanted that for myself. Never give up, ask lots of questions and heed the advice of those who’ve been there and are going where…you want to go!

Welcome Christina. And thanks for including Writers Inspired on …

The Writer Mama Two-Year Anniversary Blog Tour Giveaway!

Post #11 Success! The Verbal Offer

Jane Friedman called me on the Friday morning before Labor Day weekend to make me the offer on my proposed book. Along the way the name of the book got changed to Writer Mama. And thank goodness!

Which title do you think is better: The Busy Mom’s Guide to Freelance or Writer Mama?

I think Writer Mama is infinitely better. And the new title also opened up some exciting writing possibilities for me. You see the world really didn’t need another freelancing book. There are plenty already. But the world really needed a book that would tackle the idea of how to grow a writing career alongside your kids. And with this new focus, I was able to craft a totally unique book. A book not just based on my personal experience but also based on the wisdom of a larger group of successful mom writers.

So, now seems like a good time to bring up the issue of collaboration. When you self-publish a book, there is only one captain steering the ship. Some people think that this is preferable. But here’s the problem: there’s only one person steering the ship. Doesn’t any book benefit from input from multiple sources? I think so. And I think a problem in some self-published books is that they would have benefited from more editorial planning at the early stages.

Please note: I’ve seen some high-quality self-published books, as well. However, they might have benefited from help in other aspects of the process. Like a better cover design. Or the insight that the photos used would become dated. Or help with distribution, promotion, and shipping. There are so many aspects of book publishing. I could have never crafted a book that would go on to receive thirty favorable reviews on Amazon if I’d had to concern myself with these other issues.

So yes, once I struck a deal with Writer’s Digest, my book became a collaborative process. And it’s such a better book because of all of that collaboration. The fact that others were doing the heavy lifting on the book production end helped me keep my focus on writing the best book I could possibly write. And that was my primary objective.

Today’s Book Drawing: To enter to win a signed, numbered copy of Writer Mama, answer the following question in this blog’s comments:

How would you feel about collaborating with a publisher about such issues as title, cover design, book content, and marketing strategies? Are you up for it?

Thanks for participating! Only US residents, or folks with a US mailing address can participate in the drawing. Please only enter once per day.

Where will the drawing be tomorrow? Visit http://thewritermama.wordpress.com/ to continue reading the rest of the Writer Mama story throughout March 2009!


Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids by Christina Katz (Writer’s Digest Books 2007)

Kids change your life, but they don’t necessarily have to end your career. Stay-at-home moms will love this handy guide to rearing a successful writing career while raising their children. The busy mom’s guide to writing life, this book gives stay-at-moms the encouragement and advice they need including everything from getting started and finding ideas to actually finding time to do the work – something not easy to do with the pitter-patter of little feet. With advice on how to network and form a business, this nurturing guide covers everything a writer mama needs to succeed at her second job.


Filed under Advice, Author Interviews, books, Get Published, Give Aways, Perseverance, writing inspiration

“I know the world is filled with troubles and many injustices…”

“…But reality is as beautiful as it is ugly. I think it is just as important to sing about beautiful mornings as it is to talk about slums. I just couldn’t write anything without hope in it.” ~ Oscar Hammerstein II

old-woman-in-sadness-thumb8210807(photo courtesy of dreamstime.com)

So, the financial crisis is affecting us all in one way or another. Maybe someone in your household or your neighborhood lost their job recently. My own retired parents are watching their life savings dwindle away with each stock market dip (or should I say “plunge”?)  Kids are too plugged in to TV, YouTube, Wii, Ipod, cell phones.  We adults are getting more out of shape each week.  Doom & Gloom, Doom & Gloom swirls all around us.

Use this material! You’re living it now. Write about it. Describe the gut wrenching feeling of opening another Final Notice bill, the guilt of going through the drive-thru for dinner again, the exhaustion that takes over preventing you from talking to your teenager who zones out on Facebook chatting about God knows what.

I went through a whole college phase of writing about hookers, runaways, drunk fathers, dirty city streets and wintry weather elements.  Of course I did not actually experience these things, but they were around my environment where I was attending school.  I used my writer’s eye and ear to gain details and fleshed out characters for fiction.  It must have been my age or writing experimentation, but the stories never ended “happily ever after.” However, now I like to take the tragic and infuse some hope.

What can you use from the bad to make good? Rewrite your current state of life and give yourself a happy ending!


Filed under Believe, Creative Essays, emotion, Inspiration, Perseverance

Comfort Zones…

“If you have the courage to step outside of your comfort zone, you will not only be amazed by the marvel and sights of the world, but also with the wonders that lay deep within yourself.”
Rosanna Ienco
From her new book Awakening the Divine Soul – Finding Your Life Purpose

I used to think of myself as an adventure-seeker, or at the least an outgoing, “I’ll try anything once” kind of girl.  In grade school my nickname was Spaz. Shut up.

So, when I had the opportunity to travel downtown (Chicago) for the AWP Conference, I registered without thinking of my comfort zone, i.e. setting my mind on autopilot for my routine drive to the office,  control over when I arrive and when I can leave.

Now, I don’t like driving. In fact, I would say I’d rather wash toilets than drive, especially during rush hour in Chicago winter weather. So, driving downtown on an unfamiliar route was out of the question. But, I had never taken the train.  My husband, bless him, mapped out my itinerary: which train to take and what time, which bus to catch to get me closest to the Hilton and how much cash I should have on hand for the round trip. Still, my insides were twisting with anxiety.  What if I couldn’t find my way out of Union Station? What if I got on the wrong bus, took it to the end of the line and winded up being this little white girl in a shady part of the city?

My husband dropped me at the Downers Grove Main St. train station before 7am. If you were on that train, you’d know me: petite brunette, Old Navy messenger bag balanced on my lap, favorite NaNoWriMo“Author” coffee mug in right hand, Google map in the left.

But, after I found my way out of Union Station and onto the street and onto the Number 1 Harrison bus, I was alive with energy. To be back in the city, blocks away from Columbia College where I studied Fiction Writing, the bustle of Chicagoans on their morning foot commute, Starbucks coffee cups omitting steam into the city skyline.

And the workshops were amazing! Editors on panel telling us what they want and what they hate; published authors outlining their techniques of the short story; college professors and interns giving tips on how to teach young writers to take risks with their characters. I took pages of notes, handfuls of business cards, freebies from the Book Fair and an overwhelming feeling of community.  I am a writer. There’s nothing better than stepping out of your comfort zone to explore new surroundings, make connections and revel in your new found confidence!

Also, I had the honor of  lunching with my friend and teacher, Christina Katz (aka WriterMama)


 P.S.   I discovered I really like taking the train! When I didn’t have to rein in the growing panic of being outside my comfort zone, I was able to relax. I read, I wrote poetry – Poetry! and I planned out my next creative writing class lesson plan. All while being transported to where I needed to be. Kind of like royalty, when you think about it.

So, are youready to step out of your comfort zone ? Imagine a goal, make a list of action steps  – and Act! And, please – share your steps here. Afterall, this is Writers Inspired!


Filed under Advice, Believe, emotion, Perseverance, writers, writing inspiration

“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation…”

“…you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.”

Rabbi Harold Kushner,  Author of When Bad Things Happen To Good People


Does your soul need nourishing?  Try this: write down 10 things you are grateful for, right now.  Reach deep, tap into that raw emotion that when brought to the surface makes your aura glow! It could be simple things, that go unnoticed if you don’t validate them. Then, of course, because we are writers, jot a few words next to each on how you can spin it into a story, article or essay!

I’m grateful for:

  1. Sammy’s sweet smile and attachment to me (mother-son relationships)
  2. David playing guitar on Rockband and struggling to complete the song “Battery” by Metallica – on Medium setting. (building confidence in middle schoolers)
  3. Silly inside jokes between my husband and me (marrying your BFF)
  4. Strong support group of writing friends (finding courage thru community)
  5. I have so many wishes and things to aspire to (goals/visualization)
  6. The sun is shining! (sunshine and the effects on my mood)
  7. My sister works at a bookstore! (bargain buddies)
  8. I have a day job. (make the most of 9-5)
  9. I’m attending a 2-day writer’s conference – AWP (benefits of writing conferences)
  10. My cuddly cockatiel, Comet (benefits of pets)


Now, what are you grateful for? And, more importantly, how can you validate your feelings  by writing about it?

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Filed under Advice, Believe, Creative Essays, emotion, goals, Inspiration, Perseverance, Rest, writers, writing inspiration, Writing prompts

The Lesson…

Winter Weather  lAnyone else spend an un-Godly amount of time in their car Tuesday night?  My usual 1 hour commute home from work was bordering on 3+ hours when I decided I wasn’t going to make it home.

  Instead, I called my little brother, Ken, who lived near my office and asked if he wanted a slumber party!  Weary, tense and desperate for a bathroom, I trudged up his snow covered steps. A warm hug greeted me and great food and conversation followed.

I would never have had this memorable evening with my brother, laughing over old family jokes, catching up on our current lives and future goals, if it hadn’t been for that horrible Chicago snowstorm.

“The Lesson: When you don’t get what you want, it means something bigger and better is right around the corner if you are willing to persist and turn that obstacle into an opportunity.” ~ Jill Koenig, Author, speaker

Are you blocked by an obstacle in your writing or personal life? How can you make it an opportunity?  We have a motto in my household to “Never Give Up!” It is not an easy creed to follow. But, by sometimes saying “to hell with it!” you can reach up and over those obstacles to an outcome you didn’t think possible.

Come read my success story over at the WriterMama blog today!

And share your obstacles and ways of overcoming them…

Leave a comment

Filed under Advice, Believe, emotion, Inspiration, Perseverance, Rest, writers

Write Guide to Holiday Shopping!


{photo courtesy of wallpaperez.info}

I love anything “writerly.” And if you’re reading this, chances are you do too! Whether you’re buying for yourself, a writing buddy or conveniently “linking” to this post in an email to your loved ones, ideas for great gifts are always a bonus!
So, let the list of joyous writer’s gifts begin!

  1. If your magazine stockpile has become a dangerous pillar of paper – get organized! I LOVE this fabric wall-mount magazine organizer, priced about $15 from The Container Store.
  2. Keep your files neatly labeled with a Dymo Letratag Label Maker. Buy it on-line or at any office supply store for about $30. You can change the font style, size and color.
  3. Every writer needs pens, even if they primarily type their work. I love the smooth non-skip flow of the Pilot Precise V5 in black and red ink (gotta edit sometimes!)
  4. A Digital Voice Recorder is great for recording those plot twist ideas when stuck in traffic. Also beneficial for recording interviews to later transcribe. The one I use has a setting to record in separate “files” for easy tracking. RCA RP 5120-A runs about $30 and can be found at Walmart, Target, Circuit City, etc.
  5. Books! Of course, the highly acclaimed “Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids” by Christina Katz is a fav of mine. This book got me thinking seriously about the non-fiction market. Another on my own wish list: “Writing Personal Essays: How to Shape Your Life Experiences for the Page” by Sheila Bender. The market for personal stories is growing by the day and I intend to join them!
  6. Of course, general office supplies are always in need, since we use these up! Post-it’s, notecards, notebooks, binders, file folders, mailing labels are good staples (staples, too!) But for something fun and funky, try wrapables.com for cool bookends and such.
  7. If you’re getting serious about your writing and ready to take it to the next level, I recommend “Get Know Before the Book Deal“, another gem by Christina Katz. And in the meantime, order some inexpensive but quality business cards from Vistaprint.com. They have great sales and freebies!
  8. Maybe you’re a writer who’s going more techy. Some ideas would be: WritersMarket.com subscription to help find and organize all those markets, Storyright.com – a nifty software (free trial!) which helps the plotting, outlining and writing of your fiction, especially novels!, a flashdrive to save your valuable work, or a gift certificate to one of multiple on-line writing courses. I found my niche in writing short stuff and getting my first clip by taking “Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff,” valued at $199.00, you can get in the class for FREE, check out the details here.
  9. Of course, there are always the unconventional gifts writers need like time and space. Read this eye-opening article titled “Writers’ Wish Lists: More than Office Supplies,” by Melissa Mayntz in the Funds For Writers Small Markets Newsletter, (12-07-08 issue.)
  10. And if you’re still stumped, go here for a whole book of ideas, compliments of WOW! Women on Writing!

Happy shopping and remember…Santa’s watching.


Filed under Advice, Education, Fiction, Fun Stuff, Give Aways, Markets, Non Fiction, Organization, Rest, writer markets, writers, Writing Space