Archive for the 'Writer Mama' Category

Writer Mama Scholarship


Writer Mama ScholarshipVALUE: $250.00!!!
Are you a mom, who would love to take the Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff Class that starts October 7th, but you would not otherwise be able to afford it?

Then you qualify for The Writer Mama Scholarship.

Application deadline for the next Available Scholarship for the October 7th Writing & Publishing The Short Stuff Class is between Monday, September 7th – Sunday, September 13th!

Details here.

Fall in Love with Books Again!


Writer Mama Back to School Giveaway BadgeFor the third year in a row, I am giving away thirty books in thirty days. All you have to do to participate is answer the question that I will pose daily. One lucky winner will win each day. There is no limit to how many times you can enter. The drawing is for U.S. residents. You don’t have to be a mom, but of course, the event is created with moms in mind, so please tell all the writer mamas you know! Visit daily!

Feel free to grab the badge and spread the word!

Reasons to Write: June-The Discovery Zone

By Christina Katz
If you’ve ever read my books, heard me speak or taken a class with me, then you are no doubt familiar with a drum I Christina Katzbeat often and hard: don’t wait to be discovered; produce yourself!

The flip side of my frequent don’t-wait-to-be-discovered admonition is, naturally, to discover yourself. The word “discover” means to see, to get knowledge of, to learn of, to find, to gain sight of, to notice and to realize.
Once you become willing to discover yourself, you have the key to everything-you can know your thoughts, uncover your plans and ambitions, and see the best path right in front of you.

Why is this so important these days? Because if you don’t know which direction you are headed and why, there are more ways to get off the path and into the woods than ever. So if your choices feel like they spoke in too many directions, why not pause and dive back into self-discovery? Even five minutes of self-reflection can get you out of spin mode and reset your clarity of direction. Because if you don’t know who you are, what you are all about, and where you are going, then nobody else is going to get it either.

Why then, would you want to write to become discovered, when the same skill can be used to see and know anything and everything you are ever curious about? When you feel adrift in a sea of choices, don’t reach for the input of others. Reach for your pen or your keyboard and-WOOSH!-you’ll find that you had the power to shine in your capable hands all along. Next thing you know, you are off, making discoveries that can take you and your readers anywhere.

Through writing you can discover a new use for something old. Indeed the process of writing IS a new use for something old: you get to share a seemingly endless stream of words on nothing but good ol’ brainpower. What a joy to discover something for yourself through the process of writing that may have been previously known to others but was unknown to you.

Writing allows you to chance upon ideas, to observe closely or from a distance, to notice what you hadn’t before, to find out things that thrill and dismay you, and to identify, name and claim what is revealed.

When you write to discover, instead of writing to be discovered, you are an active force in the world. You become privy to your own thoughts, your personal passions, your true feelings, your once distant memories, and the very stuff you need to express. Your efforts pay off with exponential rewards, which cannot be topped by literary accolades or rave reviews.

You remember to write for the pure bliss of writing. You come to the center. The seed. The source from which creation springs. And from there, do you really need the adoration or acclaim or attention of others? You don’t. You have it all. The key to creation. The core. The root. And the discovery is divine.

Writer Mama by Christina KatzGet Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Build an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (both for Writer’s Digest Books). A platform development coach and consultant, she teaches writing career development, hosts the Northwest Author Series, and is the publisher of several e-zines including Writers on the Rise. Christina blogs at The Writer Mama Riffs and Get Known Before the Book Deal, and speaks at MFA programs, literary events, and conferences around the country.

Dear Fellow Writers…June Message

cmkwritermama.gifRe: Creativity Takes a Rest

Within every creative cycle, there is a period of emptiness, infertility and fallowness.

If I asked, “Does creativity need rest?” We’d all nod and say, “Yes, it does.”

And then we’d go straight back to our busy lives.

Americans are working harder and longer than ever. I’ve seen several news reports on the topic all year long. Many of the harder-than-ever workers are self-employed, like freelancers. But some are telecommuters, employed by companies and working from home. I’ll bet there are plenty of folks overworking in the workplace, as well.

Many books and movies caution us about overwork. Some are aimed at children, who are affected too, of course. The movie Cars pops to mind, as does Jamie Lee Curtis’s latest children’s book, Is There Really A Human Race?

As a working mom, I know that it’s all too easy for overwork to creep in when I am already trying to cram as much work as I can into my family’s hectic schedule. Sometimes, because I am juggling so much, I feel like I’m not getting enough done. So I try to cram more work into the nooks and crannies. But it never works. The more I cram in, the less focused and effective I become.

When I am not honoring my need for rest, I become physically haggard and mentally exhausted. I feel emotionally blocked and spiritually empty. But as soon as I do take a rest, the opposite happens—life force rushes back in.

After an entire weekend free of work responsibilities, I am energetic when I return to my desk on Monday morning. I feel refreshed and ready to dive back in. I am remembering that the sacred pause of a Sabbath, a day of rest, allows me to meet and greet the feelings I may not have time to feel while I am moving so quickly all the time.

And now a confession. Despite the fact that I made a commitment to my husband at the beginning of the year that I would take weekends off from work, I am writing this on a Saturday morning. (Busted!) But, as I always say, it’s never too late to make a comeback.

It’s only 8:00 a.m. and I’m wrapping this up. As a family, we’ve got some serious canoodling to do today. First we’ll hit the bagel shop. Then we’ll stroll the farmer’s market. And finally, the piéce de resistance: hours to wander Powell’s City of Books. Now this sounds fun!

And maybe this isn’t your idea of rest. That’s okay too. There is really no “right” way to rest. So although I think all the books about zen and yoga and meditation are great, as a mom, the last thing I need is one more thing I have to do before I get to rest properly.

For me, I just dial direct. The key is tuning in to see what “rest” means to me today. And then doing (or not doing) that. As in right now. Without intermediaries.

And although I don’t associate the Sabbath with any particular religion, you might. And that’s totally cool. It’s also cool to appreciate the Sabbath each in our own personal way. Meaning the way that is most meaningful to us.

But now I’m getting deep. And seriously, I gotta go. My muse is lurking out there somewhere amid the flavored cream cheese, fresh veggies, and stacks of new and used books.

Ciao! And don’t forget to rest!

In the writing-for-publication spirit,

Christina Katz

P.S. Posting this reminded me of an article I wrote many moons ago (before I was a mom) for It’s called, “Whatever Happened to the Day of Rest?”

Christina Katz is the author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (Writer’s Digest Books, March 2007). She is a featured presenter at the Writer’s Digest/BEA Writer’s Conference, The Whidbey Island Writers Association MFA Residency, and the Willamette Writers Conference. She’s been teaching writing-for-publication classes for six years and has appeared on Good Morning America. She is also publisher and editor of this e-zine and another called The Writer Mama. Christina blogs daily at For more about Writer Mama, visit Christina’s website at

Want to Write About Writer Mama?

Writer MamaWant to feature Christina Katz, Writer Mama, Writers on the Rise, or The Writer Mama in an article you are working on or pitching?

If so, I’ve made your job easy by updating The Writer Mama website and adding a media page.

You’ll find out how to order a “review copy,” read the latest Writer Mama press releases, and find a list of Frequently Asked Questions. Help yourself to an author photo and cover image. And sample chapters, if you need them.

Also on The Writer Mama Web site, you’ll find what others say about WM, the story of how WM came to be, and, coming soon, tips for how to meet like-minded writer moms in your community.

You may also wish to visit The Writer Mama Riffs blog and check out upcoming events and buzz there.

The Secret Language of Editors: “Lead Time”

Abigail GreenFreelancers’ Phrase Book

By Abigail Green

Who, besides Santa and seriously organized people, starts thinking about Christmas in July? Freelance writers. That’s because they know if they have any hope of selling a holiday-themed article, they’d better keep the magazine’s editorial calendar in mind.

Most magazines decide on their editorial line-up months or even a year or more in advance. How far ahead they work is called “lead time.” A magazine’s lead time is usually spelled out in the writers’ guidelines, and it varies greatly from publication to publication. For instance, Yankee magazine requests that seasonal topics be pitched one year in advance so photos can be arranged. The Christian Science Monitor, on the other hand, will sometimes publish a timely article the week it’s submitted.

This means that for most publications, you can’t send out a timely piece a month or even two months beforehand and hope the editor will find a slot for it. By then it’s too late–unless you’re submitting to newspapers or you’re pitching a magazine for next year. But even then, it helps to consider a publication’s lead time.

Some magazines make their editorial calendars available to writers. Hint: On a magazine’s Web site, if you can’t find the editorial calendar in the writers’ guidelines, look in the “For Advertisers” section. You might learn, for example, that a special vacation issue is planned for June and that the deadline for editorial copy is in March. Then you can fire off your “Teen Travel Tips” article at the end of February and have plenty of time to follow up with the editor. Sending the right idea–at the right time– just might make the difference between selling your story or not.

Abigail Green ( is a freelance writer in Baltimore. Over the past 10 years, she has written about health, travel, weddings, business, education and more for national, regional and online publications including AOL, AAA World, Bride’s, Baltimore Magazine, Cooking Light and Health. Her latest project is raising her first child, which she chronicles in her blog:

The Faces Behind a Writing Conference

Mary AndonianWriting Conference Success
By Mary Andonian

We’ve talked about all the people you’ll meet at a writers’ conference, including agents, editors, presenters, and manuscript critique specialists. Here are other folks you won’t want to miss the next time you attend a conference:

At the conference to share their expertise and to promote their work, authors can typically be found either signing books, teaching/presenting, or critiquing. Look for the ones who are in between activities, make an introduction, and then ask them about their journey to success. Listen to their feedback and count yourself lucky that you get this personal workshop that wasn’t listed in the brochure.


This is you. Find others whose company you enjoy and stick with them at the conference. You might already be part of a critique/networking group. If so, encourage your peers to attend the conference with you. You’ll feel more confident walking into a pitch if the last person you see is your writing bud giving you the “thumbs up” sign. If you go alone to the conference, make friends by approaching the people who asked good questions in your workshops. They just might become your future “thumbs up” writing buds.

Conference Committee
These are the people who labor away all year to make the conference a reality. Look for an opportunity to help them. Do you have a skill set they can use on next year’s committee? Is it your secret desire to make copies of handouts at 3:00 a.m.? The committee can use you. Find a way to meet them and offer your services. Not because you want to sell conferences for a living, but because it will help give you an insider’s perspective to the writing conference realm.

Action Steps this Month
1. Target a writing conference you’d like to attend. Contact the conference committee and ask if any volunteer positions are available before, during or after the conference.
2. Encourage your writerly friends to register with you.
3. Scan the brochure and find authors you’d like to know. E-mail one of them and ask if you can buy them a cup of coffee and “pick their brain” at the conference.

Attitude Is Everything
Don’t go into the conference with an attitude of “What’s in it for me?” Instead, think of every interaction with every person as an opportunity to be of service. Your successful writing career will be the result of many people working together to bring your words into the world. Someone’s counting on you to help them do the same.

Mary Andonian is the agents and editors coordinator for the Willamette Writers conference—one of the largest writers’ conferences in the United States. In past years, she was Co-chair and Program Coordinator.  Her book, Bitsy’s Labyrinth, was picked up by a prominent agent at last year’s conference. You can reach her at (

Milk Your Expertise

cmkwritermama.gifPlatform Development 101
By Christina Katz

If you’ve been reading this column, you will not be surprised when I say that developing your platform can be a labor of love. In fact, developing your platform can almost feel like play. As ice cream entrepreneurs Ben and Jerry said, “If it’s not fun, why do it?”

I definitely second that emotion. Why? Because your audience can feel where you are coming from, so why not come from somewhere positive that adds more good to the world? If you choose a sustainable passion and act with gradually increasing momentum, your audience will feel like they are participating in something special and unique. But if you just “get a platform” because you intellectually know that you should, you may as well not even bother.

Did you know that before they were world-famous, Ben & Jerry started off selling ice cream cones in a converted gas station in Vermont, of all places? If they can build the kind of brand recognition and feel-good reputation they did, then I’m thinking that you and I should have a decent shot at identifying and delivering our expertise in a similarly serious yet lighthearted manner. No matter what your topic is, as long as there is a demand for it (even if your “demand” is as fleeting as a hot summer day in Vermont, and there aren’t too many of these every year), you can carve out a niche that will support your platform and help you reach potential readers.

So how can you test-drive this platform fun? Just rev your sustainable passion engines, identify the needs of your audience and begin filling those needs with what you already have. That’s an easy way to start. And then you can let your efforts evolve from there.

I’m going to list some platform-builders here. Don’t take any of them too seriously. Put a check beside every endeavor that sounds fun:

__ Public speaking
__ Manuscript evaluation
__ Teaching
__ Editing
__ Consulting
__ Copywriting
__ Co-authoring
__ Ghostwriting
__ Self-publishing

Here are a few examples from Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (Writers Digest Books, 2007):

Kelly James-Enger gives presentations on writing and fitness topics at colleges, libraries, and conferences. In addition to a successful writing career that has resulted in four non-fiction books and two fiction books, Kelly is a certified personal trainer and has been published in over fifty national magazines. (

Manuscript evaluation: Elizabeth Lyon offers editing services and manuscript evaluation as part of her platform. She runs Editing International, which offers ser-vices including editing, coaching, group instruction, outsourcing, and writing, pro-vided by herself and her associate editors. Elizabeth has written five non-fiction books and presents at writers conferences around the country. (

Teaching workshops or classes: You can teach classes independently, through an institution or organization or online. I teach e-mail classes through my Web site Writers on the Rise. I’ve taught adults live at a community college and indepen-dently via e-mail, each for three years. Last year, I branched out into conference presentations and speaking. This is my first book. (

Editing (freelance, contract basis, or as employee): Wendy Burt offers freelance editing to custom magazines along with her writing. The two services complement each other, so clients can hire Wendy to both generate content and manage it as well. Wendy’s experience as an author of two books has led her to edit books for other authors and to counsel authors on everything from book proposals to agents and foreign rights. Since she is used to soliciting work as a freelancer, she doesn’t maintain a Web site. She pitches her editing/writing services instead.

Consulting in your area of expertise: Jennifer Louden, the comfort expert, offers consulting services to companies like Proctor & Gamble, Johnny Rockets, and Spandex Fiber. She has also worked with associations like the National Council of the State Boards of Nursing. She has appeared on the Oprah Show, CNN, and CNBC and is the author of six books. (

Copywriting for businesses: In addition to writing for national magazines and teaching a writing class via e-mail, Linda Formichelli offers copywriting services to corporations. She’s penned brochures, newsletters, press releases, ad copy, radio scripts, and slogans for companies around the country. (

Co-authoring/Ghostwriting: Jenna Glatzer offers ghostwriting (writing for another person) and co-writing (working with another author) services. She’s written three non-fiction books for writers and one children’s book of her own. She has ghostwritten/co-authored five additional books (which sometimes carry “With Jenna Glatzer” and sometimes don’t carry her name at all). (

Self-Publishing (newsletters, e-books, and self-published books): C. Hope Clark publishes four newsletters for writers (paid and free). She has also published eleven e-books to help writers find funds and a self-published book, The Shy Writer. She also offers online chat sessions and writing contests for writers. (

But how are you going to get started? By starting small, that’s how. If you want to teach, write up a class synopsis and contact your local community college. If you want to consult, take a working consultant out for coffee and do an informational interview. Not sure if you’d like copywriting? Visit someone’s business writing site and check out the samples. Think you could have fun doing any of these things? Then why not try?

Once you’ve determined the direction or directions you would like to move in, simply take one step a day until you’re doing it. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can go from conception to manifestation when you have the energy of enthusiasm behind your intention. And once you get started, remind yourself to have fun, have fun, have fun!

Because if it’s not fun, why do it?

Christina Katz, author of Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids teaches, speaks, coaches, and inspires writers to new career heights. She is publisher and editor of two e-mail newsletters, Writers on the Rise and The Writer Mama. Christina strives to balance her roles as a wife, mother, and multiple pet-owner with her calling as a writer and writing career synergizer. She cherishes the reflective moments cultivated in the corners of an otherwise busy life, preferably with a cup of tea, pen and pad of paper handy.

How to Work a Writing Practice into Family Life

sharonwotrhead.gifThe Parent-Writer: Strategies for Success
By Sharon Miller Cindrich

The first thing students of my Parent Writers class want to know is the magic trick. How do you squeeze writing into a day filled with toddlers and carpools and piano lessons and groceries and all the other exhausting demands that come with being a parent? They are never satisfied when I take away the smoke and mirrors to reveal that there is no trick,––just lots and lots of hard work.

Working a successful writing practice into your life means you need to recognize your writing endeavors as one more job. And taking that job seriously means committing time to work at it, instead of adding it to the end of your to-do list. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No. Trust me, I’ve done it.

Okay, there aren’t tricks, but I do have a few tips…ones that will help you recognize your writing as a priority, shuffle it into the mix with the other demands in your life, and boost your productivity. Read ‘em and write!

Get it on the calendar. Right next to the appointments for the orthodontist, the piano lessons and your child’s soccer game, put your writing time down in ink on the family calendar so that everyone knows it is a priority.

Build in a reminder. Set an alarm on your watch or on the stove to remind yourself to stop what you’re doing and write.

Prepare the family. Remind your partner that you plan to write after dinner. Have jammies laid out for bed. Give the baby a bath early. Reserve the home computer with a sticky note. Encourage the whole family to support you.

Give yourself a carrot. Decide on a reward for getting that essay finished or logging in 3 hours of work. Think low budget–a fancy cup of coffee, ice cream, a TV program–you’re a writer, after all.

Make it a pill you can swallow. Start by finding small pockets of time, such as 15 minutes a day OR 3 half-hours a week OR one paragraph before bed. Make each step a regular commitment, then build on them each week.

Like any good habit, developing a writing practice takes some focused discipline to get started. Once you get a regular rhythm going and have set clear expectations and boundaries with your family, your writing rituals may start to feel like magic.

E-Parenting, Keeping Up with Your Tech-Savvy Kids by Sharon CindrichSharon Miller Cindrich is a freelance writer whose work has been published nationally in magazines and newspapers around the country including The Chicago Tribune, Parents Magazine, and The Writer. She is a Contributing Editor at FamilyFun Magazine and writes a bimonthly humor column for West Suburban Living Magazine in the Chicago Suburbs. She is a regular contributor to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Lifestyle section and Metroparent Magazine. Her book E-Parenting: Keeping Up with Your Tech-Savvy Kids is now out from Random House. Read more about Sharon at


An Interview with Amy Wang, Assistant Bureau Chief at The Oregonian

amy-wang.gifIn the Spotlight: Agent & Editor Insights for Getting Published
By Lori Russell

The Oregonian, a daily newspaper with more than 300,000 subscribers in northwest Oregon and southwest Washington, purchases hundreds of freelance articles every year. Assistant bureau chief, Amy Wang, edits a weekly news magazine for the Metro Southwest bureau that focuses on community-level coverage of three Portland-area suburbs. In this month’s column, she shares what freelance writers need to know about pitching and writing for a daily newspaper.

What kinds of articles and/or subjects does The Oregonian look for from freelancers?
As a general-audience publication, we are interested in all sorts of articles and subjects. The sections that use freelancers the most are A&E (arts and entertainment), Books, Travel, FoodDAY, Homes & Gardens, Commentary (opinion) and Living (daily features). As a regional newspaper, we prefer articles and subjects with strong ties to Oregon and Washington. Our five suburban weeklies are even more narrowly focused.

What should writers keep in mind when considering story ideas to pitch to a daily newspaper like The Oregonian?
Unlike magazines, which often work several months ahead, newspaper editors typically work no more than two or three weeks ahead. Many sections that use freelancers go to press a day or two before the actual publication date. Deadlines are tighter and the turnaround from the query to publication can be very short, sometimes just a couple of days.

Before querying, make sure no similar stories have been published recently. If you are serious about freelancing for newspapers, buy a subscription to the Nexis online database, which archives hundreds of English-language newspapers.

Newspaper editors are unlikely to purchase a piece just because the topic is interesting. We’ll ask, what’s the news peg–that is, why publish this piece now instead of two months ago or six weeks in the future? A successful query will explain that your piece about a hair salon just for children is relevant now because it is about to open a branch in our area, or that we should buy your interview with Sarah McLachlan because she is about to perform in Portland.

What are the top two or three things you look for in a query letter?

In addition to what I described above, I also expect some familiarity with my section, which is available online. The articles I publish typically run about 500 words, so a much longer article is not going to get the go-ahead. Plus, more than one typo or grammatical mistake is an instant turnoff for me.

What would be a usual response time for an editor to respond to a query letter?
I generally respond to queries within a day or two; other editors may take up to a week. If a writer hasn’t received a response after a week, I would recommend calling the editor.

Once a writer has had an article published in The Oregonian, are there long-term freelance opportunities available?
If the writer had trouble making deadline or did not respond satisfactorily to an editor’s questions/concerns, or the piece required a good deal of revision or was much longer or shorter than agreed upon, the editor would probably not be inclined to purchase another article, let alone discuss long-term opportunities. If all went well, the editor would be more open to discussion. For instance, a freelancer might pitch the idea of a monthly feature and the editor might agree to plan for that feature while reserving the right not to purchase any one installment.

What current or future trends in the newspaper industry should freelancers be aware of?
Probably the biggest trend right now that affects freelancers directly is toward moving content online. Freelancers should be aware that when they sell a piece, the first-time rights that a newspaper purchases typically include publication on the paper’s Web site.

Do you have any other advice for freelancers wanting to break into
the daily newspaper market?

The better you understand newspapers’ procedures and priorities, the better off you’ll be. We don’t have fact-checkers, so we need freelancers to take accuracy seriously and not rely on us to save them from errors. I would much rather work with an unknown average writer who’s obsessive about accuracy than with a well-known talent who’s sloppy with facts. Also, after I finish a story, I send it to the copy desk, where it is read by at least two more editors who may make further revisions. Finally, newspaper editors are eternally grateful to freelancers who know and abide by the Associated Press Stylebook.

The best way to contact an editor at The Oregonian is by e-mail. For a complete listing of the paper’s staff, go to Writers can also e-mail a query to: and include in the subject line, “Freelance query for (name of section).” An editor checks that e-mail account regularly and will forward the query.

Lori RusselLori Russell is an award-winning writer who has had the pleasure to work with several great editors in her 17 years as a freelancer. She is a contributing editor to Columbia Gorge Magazine and has been a regular contributor to Ruralite for more than a decade. Her articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the country and her short fiction and poetry has been published in several journals and anthologies. Lori recently completed her first novel, Light on Windy River.

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