Archive for November, 2009

Busy Parent Writer: Joy to the World – And Your Writing Colleagues

By Sharon Miller CindrichSharon Cindrich and kids
‘Tis the season to give thanks for all your blessings – and this year that means those who support you, write alongside you, edit you and publish you.
Editors. Interns. Fellow writers. Teachers. The holiday season gives you a unique opportunity to acknowledge your professional relationships and express your hopes for and interest in an even more productive new year.
Check out these ideas when sending holiday cheer:
Send an e-mail. A simple e-mail costs nothing, yet allows you to use your writing skills to extend best wishes for continued success in your working relationships. Do check out or for some fun, festive – even talking – e-mail options. Don’t send a bulk e-mail.
Send a card. A handwritten note of thanks is something to be treasured in today’s e-world. Find cards with a fun writing theme and hand-write a simple, yet personal message inside. Do send individual cards to different editors at the same address. Don’t forget to include your business card and contact information inside the card.
Send a small gift. Small trinkets of thanks can be inexpensive and memorable. Pencil-shaped chocolates, fancy paperclips or a donation to a charity in the name of your colleague can really make an impression. Do send something creative — a ball that reads “I had a ball working with you this year” from or coffee with an “Editor’s Brew” sticker on the package. Don’t send something too expensive – it sends the wrong message.
My favorite: Each year, I purchase several beehives through Heifer International in the names of my colleagues, and send cards thanking them for keeping me “busy as a bee” during the year. Check them out at
Giving gifts to your clients and colleagues can also give a gift to you when it’s time to report to the IRS. Don’t forget to keep track of expenses, as business gifts, cards, postage and charitable donations are tax deductible.

A Smart Girl's Guide to the Internet By Sharon CindrichSharon Miller Cindrich is the mom of two, a columnist and author of E-Parenting: Keeping Up With Your Tech-Savvy Kids (Random House, 2007). Her next book, A Smart Girl’s Guide to the Internet (American Girl) debuts in September 2009. Packed with tips, quizzes, and “What would you do?” scenarios, this book helps girls become smart and safe Internet users. Learn more at www


The Writer Mama Scholarship
VALUE: $250.00!!!

Are you a mom, who would love to take the Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff Class that starts January 13th, but you would not otherwise be able to afford it?

Then be sure to apply for The Writer Mama Scholarship.

I am accepting applications from Monday, December 7th through Sunday, December 13th for the January 13th Writing & Publishing the Short Stuff Class Scholarship.
I will send out a reminder announcement in December. Hope you will apply!

Writing for the Web: Remember the Benefits

By Jennifer ApplinJennifer Applin
Throughout the year we’ve covered some of the specific ways writing for the web differs from writing for print publications. Learning new techniques and considering different marketing strategies may seem like a hassle and you may be asking yourself, “Why bother?”
Studies have shown that more and more people are turning to the web to get their news and information. In case you need a little convincing that writing for the web is worth your time, remember some of these additional benefits:
Work is published faster. That means you’ll have   your published credit (or clip) sooner, as well as your payment.
There is a need for content in all areas. A quick search of your desired topic can provide instant results of potential markets.

It is easy to share your online work with potential clients and editors. You can simply send a link to your piece instead of mailing a photocopy of your published print article.

Editors may be more approachable. There are a lot of “rules” to consider when trying to break into print publications. Since writing for the web is still fairly new, many of the web content editors have not been bombarded by freelance writers looking for work and therefore may be easier to approach.

You can do your research right at your desk. You don’t need to make a trip to the library to review back issues of the publication. Everything you need to analyze the site and its content is as close as your laptop.   

My suggestion is to take everything you’ve learned and everything you will learn in the future and apply it to what works for you. Being genuine and creating your own unique journey is the true key to success in this business.

Jennifer Applin is a freelance writer living in Ohio with her husband and four young children. Aside from writing for many regional publications, she is regular contributor to and She spends her days cooking, cleaning and caring for little ones; and her nights writing about pregnancy, parenting and the quest for peace (as in peace and quiet). You can also find her at Managing the MotherLoad.


Writing and Publishing The Short Stuff
Especially For Moms (But Not Only for Moms!)
With Christina Katz
Now includes both regional and national markets!
Class Begins January 13, 2010
Prerequisites: None
Finally, a writing workshop that fits into the busy lives of moms! You will learn how to create short, easy-to-write articles-a skill that will make it easier to move up to longer, more time-consuming articles when you’re ready. Try your pen at tips, fillers, short interviews, list articles, how-tos, and short personal essays-all within six weeks. Now includes markets!
Cost: $250.00
More/Register at

Personal Essays that Get Published
With Abigail Green

Class Begins January 13, 2010
Prerequisites: None
The popularity of reality shows, blogs, and tell-all books proves that it pays to get personal these days. Whether you want to write introspective essays, short humor pieces, or first-person reported stories, your life is a goldmine of rich material that all kinds of publications are pining for. Personal Essays that Get Published will teach you how to get your personal experiences down on the page and get them published. Students will learn how to find ideas, hone their voice, craft solid leads and endings, reslant their work for different markets, and submit their essays for publication.
Cost: $250.00
More/Register at

Updated and Improved!
Turn Your Specialty Into Course Curriculum
With Christina Katz

Class Begins on January 13th
Prerequisites: Former student or Permission from Instructor. Recommended before CSNBP.
I bet you have worked long and hard to discover your specialty, narrow the focus of your expertise, and build your credibility, so shouldn’t you also develop a course curriculum that you can use as the starting point for years of teaching and learning from your students? I have been doing this for eight years and in this six-week class, I will share all of the insights I have learned so you can create your own class, including strategies for cultivating a following of students who succeed. This is probably the most important class I teach because it helps writers make the most of the expertise they already have.
Cost: $399
Register at

Coming Classes:

Pitching Practice: Write Six Queries in Six Weeks
With Christina Katz

Class Begins May 12th
Prerequisites: WPSS with published clips or permission from the instructor.
In this writing class, pitching is all you do. Each week, you will study a successful writer’s query and create your own list of steps to follow. You will receive a three-page worksheet weekly, which will provide helpful ideas and checklists to help you systematize your query writing process and increase your productivity.
Cost: $250.00
More/Register at

Updated and Improved!
Craft A Saleable Nonfiction Book Proposal
With Christina Katz

Class Begins on March 3rd
Prerequisites: Former student or Permission from Instructor.
Most writers underestimate the comprehensiveness needed to craft a saleable book proposal that will garner the interest of agents and editors. They also mistake the definition of platform and importance of aligning their proposal to a solid track record. A two-time author, Christina has helped hundreds of nonfiction writers succeed over the past seven years. Now she’s making her proposal-writing advice available in a six-week e-mail course to aspiring authors who want to nail the proposal the first time around. The best way to craft a short, tight proposal that will impress agents and editors is with the help of a seasoned professional.
Cost: $399.00
Register at


Read the updated information and register here.

 Invest In Your Writing Career Today & Reap Greater Rewards Tomorrow.

Happy Holidays, Mom!

The weather outside is getting frightful and I’m getting busy. How about you?

As promised, the Dream Team registration process has begun. Hooray!

I’ve very excited to work on an ongoing basis with those who sign up for Dream Teams, as well as with those who take my classes in 2010.

You can sign up for six-week January classes with me and Abigail Green at my new website/blog,, on the Register page. Classes will be offered again in March and May, as well.

But Dream Teams run for five months for one low price! Former students may sign up for Dream Teams at my new website/blog, on the Practice page.

There are three levels of Dream Teams following classes I teach:

  • Article Accountability Dream Team With Writing & Publishing the Short Stuff Students
  • Article Accountability Dream Team With Former Pitching Practice Students
  • Before & After The Book Deal, Advanced Platform Development Accountability Group

If you are not sure which group you belong in, please e-mail me after you register. Don’t wait to hear back from me and lose your spot. The Dream Teams will fill on a first-registered, first-served basis.

The WPSS Dream Team is already half-way full. If there is enough interest for two full WPSS teams, I will do two. But when the first one is full, it’s full. And it might be the only one. So don’t delay if you want to participate! (Naturally, if you sign up for a second group and it doesn’t fill, at least half-way, I will refund your money.)

And speaking of, what do you think? Over the past several weeks, I transferred my domain hosting to, got hosting, downloaded the Thesis Theme (promising me amazing SEO), and built me new site/blog. I could not be more thrilled with the results! (I will post how-to about this in my new blog by the New Year. Add to your blog reader so you don’t miss anything.)

So, as you can see, I am following through with my promises to focus, streamline, and re-invigorate my commitment to my students, so we can all move into 2010 stronger, wiser and more successful than ever, together.

How about you? How are you moving into 2010? Who’s your audience and what’s your commitment to them? Do you have a plan? Are you following through? I can help answer these questions and accomplish more than you’ve ever achieved before when you join Dream Teams.

Because success happens in clusters, writers. Of this, I am sure. I’ve been saying it, and proving it, for years.

And speaking of clusters, there are people I am so happy to thank for their participating in The Writer Mama this year. I have gifts and thank you cards to send them but please help me thank our contributors, our managing editor, Sage Cohen, and my administrative intern, Judy Miller, by visiting the sites listed in their bios and linking to them!

I hope you enjoyed every single issue as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you! Happy holidays! May all your days between now and the end of 2009 be merry and bright!

Christina Katz
Publisher & Editor

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The Freelancer’s Phrase Book: “On Spec”

By Abigail GreenAbby Green
Back in my March column, I discussed submitting queries versus complete articles. If you recall, I gave a few examples of when a freelancer might submit a piece to a publication “on speculation” or “on spec” for short. Basically, that means the writer has no contract and no guarantee of payment or publication. Essays will usually only be considered on spec; and for timely travel stories and short pieces, it’s often in a writer’s best interest to write them first and then submit them.
Even though it’s always preferable to have a contract in hand before writing an article, there are perfectly legitimate reasons to write on spec. Let’s say you’ve nabbed an interview with an elusive subject — the Dalai Lama, maybe, or Brad Pitt. Chances are good that you’re going to be able to sell your piece somewhere, so it’s not a huge gamble to go ahead and write up the interview. This scenario brings up another point: always have backup markets in mind when writing on spec.
I currently have an essay under consideration at a national parenting magazine I’ve been dying to break into. I floated my idea past the editor before I wrote it, which is always a good idea if you can do it. She liked the concept, but said I’d need to submit the piece on spec. My essay is now making its way up the chain of editors. Of course I’m hoping it’s accepted, but if not I have at least three alternate markets in mind that might buy my essay.
When is it not a good idea to write on spec? If your piece is so specific to your intended market that you can’t think of another angle or publication that may buy it, it’s probably not worth it. If your op-ed is on a topic that’s going to be old news by the weekend, it may not be worth your time.
Sometimes, though, submitting a piece on spec can actually help you get your foot in the door. I pitched Self magazine a half dozen ideas that were shot down for various reasons. Then I submitted a first-person essay on female friendships. They bought it. Alas, it never ran. But I did get a big fat check for more than $1/word-and at the time, that was worth more to me than the clip.
I firmly believe that Self purchased my essay because I submitted it on spec. After all, the piece was already written, so even as a new-to-them writer, I wasn’t much of a risk. Next time, maybe they’ll even publish my work!
Abigail Green has published more than 150 articles and essays in regional and national publications including American Baby, Baltimore Magazine, Bride’s, Cooking Light, and Health. Her work also appears in the new book, “A Cup of Comfort for New Mothers.” (Adams Media, 2009). Abby holds a B.A. from Vassar College and an M.A. in publishing from the University of Baltimore. She writes the “Crib Notes” column for The Writer Mama e-zine and the “Understanding Personal Essays” column for Writers on the Rise. A mother of two boys, she blogs about parenting, publishing and more at She also teaches the six-week e-course Personal Essays that Get Published.

Blog Tour Interview with Cindy Hudson on Book By Book, The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs

Book By Book by Cindy HudsonTime for another happy story. Poor me, I have so many success stories to share at the end of this year! 🙂

I’m very pleased to have played a small role in supporting Cindy Hudson in the selection and development of her book concept for Book By Book, The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs (Seal Press 2009).

There is nothing a teacher loves more than a student who is conscientious, focused, and consistent and Cindy Hudson has been all of those things over the years while launching and raising her writing career alongside her two daughters.

This year, Cindy’s oldest daughter left home for college and guess what happened at the same time? Her years of steady effort and passion for her topic blossomed into the publication of her first nonfiction book.

I’m thrilled to share this interview with Cindy with you. I’ve included a picture of a bunch of us celebrating Cindy’s book deal at the 2008 Willamette Writers Conference and pics from her recent book launch party, including a photo of the wonderful (and delicious) cake that was served there. I hope you will let her example inspire you to achieve your own publication success story.

Cindy HudsonQ. Why did you decide to start mother-daughter book clubs with your daughters?

A. Even though she loved books, my oldest daughter, Madeleine, came to reading slowly. I was thrilled when she started reading voraciously on her own in third grade. But when Madeleine came to me in fourth grade with the news that some of her friends said it wasn’t cool to read anymore, I knew I had to do something to counteract that. Forming a mother-daughter book club seemed like a great way to keep her reading for fun.

Three years later when Catherine turned nine, she was ready to start her own club too. I know part of her motivation was seeing how much fun Madeleine and I had in our book group.

Q. One of your book groups has been meeting for eight years now and the other for five. How do you think being in these clubs has benefited you and your daughters?

A. While there may be an endless number of small, day-to-day things we’ve gained from being in a book club together, there are a couple of major benefits that I’d say have made a difference in our lives.

One, it was a way for us to spend time together reading and talking about life issues as my daughters grew. I believe we can talk about anything now, from problems with friends and boyfriends to issues at school and more. I think it would have been difficult to tackle some of the topics we’ve discussed, like sex, underage drinking, and using drugs, without the entrée a book discussion provided.

Second, we’ve become really great friends with our book club moms and daughters. Many of them we didn’t know before we started our groups, but now it’s hard for us to imagine not seeing all of them on a regular basis. I’ve enjoyed getting to know my daughters’ peers, and they know they have other moms they can rely on if they need help.

Cindy Hudson's Book Deal ToastQ. How old should your daughter be when you start a mother-daughter book club?

A. If there’s an “ideal age” it may be nine. That’s when your daughter is probably able to tackle more complex texts when she reads on her own, and she’s beginning to understand more about relationships. It’s also a time when she’s likely to enjoy spending time with you, both the two of you together and in a group with other moms and daughters.

That being said, you can find ways to simplify your group meetings and discussions if you start earlier. And I’d say it’s never too late if your daughter wants to be in a group with you.

Q. Why did you write this book?

A. It was partly born of my own frustration of not finding reliable information to help moms find good, age-appropriate books that appealed to both their daughters and them. And I couldn’t find much advice on running meetings that take in the needs of two generations either. So I started a website first, The site features book reviews, author interviews, and ideas for meetings as well as other resources. But there was so much more helpful information that I didn’t have room for on the website that I knew I could include in the book. And I thought it would be helpful to give real examples from book clubs all over the country as well as feature advice from parenting experts and others.

Q. What advice do you have for moms who have sons?

A. Read together as much as you can, and encourage your husband to be in a father-son book club with them. While it’s true that you can create a mother-son book club, I think it’s more difficult to have in-depth discussions on meaningful topics as they grow. I often hear from librarians who say that lack of interest from dads is the biggest reason there are few father-son book clubs. But sons need time with their dads just as mothers need time with their daughters. And there are so many books that have multi-generational appeal for guys it should be easy for dads to be more on the bandwagon with this concept.

100_4351Q. Working moms may be worried that they don’t have enough time to be in a mother-daughter book club. Do you have any advice for them?

A. Every mom but one in my mother-daughter book clubs works either full time or part time outside the home. And most of the moms I interviewed for Book by Book also work. Many shared good ideas on fitting in time for mother-daughter book club. They may do I find that working moms are already good at a bit of extra juggling. Prepping for book club creates a good excuse to schedule precious time just for you and your daughter.

Q. What would you say makes a book a good choice for clubs to read?

A. Surprisingly it’s not the book that everyone likes, even though you may feel pressure to opt for something likeable when it’s your turn to pick. For instance, when we read Twilight in Madeleine’s book club we didn’t really have much to talk about. We all liked it; some of us (mostly the girls) loved it. There was not much more to say. Books that create layered discussions on multiple issues that group members may have differences of opinion on are more likely to keep your discussions lively. These books will keep you talking and thinking about them even after you leave the meeting.


Madeleine, Cindy and Catherine Hudson

Q. Can you give us your top three books recommendations for mother-daughter book clubs?

A. Hmm…it’s so difficult to narrow it down to just three. How about three in each of three age categories?

Nine and 10 year olds:

  • A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
  • Boy by Roald Dahl
  • Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Eleven through 13 year olds:

  • Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
  • Tangerine by Edward Bloor

Fourteen years old and up:

  • A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Light Years by Tammar Stein

100_4321Q. Can you do other fun things in mother-daughter book clubs besides reading the books?

A. Absolutely. Some of the most fun I’ve had with my groups has been on weekend getaways we schedule once each year. Other moms have found it rewarding to volunteer with their book groups or stage a play or write poetry. You may even find yourself meeting with the author of the book you read. There are so many opportunities for enrichment, and you can decide together as a group which ones you want to pursue.

Q. Your oldest daughter is now in college, and your youngest will soon be out of high school too. Do you think your groups will continue even when the girls don’t live at home?

A. I believe they will in some form. The moms in Madeleine’s group all bought tickets to a visiting author series this year, so we can keep meeting together regularly. And we’re hoping to plan two events a year that involve all of us, one over winter break from college and one in summer. I see us being involved in each other’s lives for many years to come, even if we don’t meet in our traditional mother-daughter book club format. And who knows? We may be lucky enough to morph our groups into adult mother-daughter book clubs.

Cindy Hudson is the author of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs (Seal Press, October 2009). She is a mother-daughter book club consultant, journalist, and editor. Hudson has more than twenty years of experience as a marketing and public relations professional. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two daughters. Visit her online at and

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