Ain’t No Party Like a Writing Group Party!

Save the date!

From 7-9pm on Tuesday, July 31st, we will host the ultimate writing group meeting at the Mt Pleasant Tonic (3155 Mount Pleasant St, between Kenyon and Lamont).

We will be getting down in our typical Writing Group way, doing a freewrite and workshopping a piece, from 7-8pm. If you’ve been looking for a creative outlet in your life, or a way to get back into writing, now’s your moment! Anyone is welcome, all ages, all backgrounds – and if you have a piece you’d like workshopped, send it to us at writing@winonline.org.

Then, from 8-9pm, we’ll segue to our end-of-[fiscal]-year extravaganza! Suffice to say, there will be a bar tab, tacos aplenty ($.50 tacos – beef and bean – from 8-11), and raffle prizes.

That’s right – cheap eats, free drinks, and the shot at a sweet prize!

So if you’ve been waiting to come to a writing group meeting, let this be your incentive!

See you on the 31st,

Gwen & Colleen
Writing Group Co-Chairs
writing@winonline.org

*photo credit: penguinbaywinery.com

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Hey Girl, I Really Dig Your Blog


Coming Soon! To a DC Dinner Table Near You:
Hey Girl, I Like What You Have to Say: How to Run a Successful Blog

This June 14, WIN will host its annual signature event: Women Opening Doors for Women. It’s a great event that feeds you not just literally, but with networking and amazing topics – like how to start and run a successful blog.

That’s right, this year your beloved Writing Group will host a dinner on blogging.

Looking to enter the blogosphere for the first time, or reinvigorate a blog in the lurch? Unsure what platform is the best fit for you? Just how frequently do you have to post, how specific does your topic have to be, and how do you get followers who will keep coming back? Join the Writing Group and a panel of successful bloggers in answering these questions and more. Learn how to set up and maintain a successful blog that rises above the fray and gets you noticed, and leave ready to get your voice heard.

Our Speakers Include:
Abigail Collazo: Project Manager at Turner Strategies and Editor at Fem 2pt0
Jessica Garson: National Voterfile Manager at ISSI Data, and blogger at http://iamyourjoeyramone.com
Sarah Granger: Founder, Center for Technology, Media & Society
Margie Omero, President and founder of Momentum Analysis, and Huffington Post/pollster.com blogger

You don’t want to miss this event. Get your tickets today!

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Save These Dates!

What are you doing this Wednesday? Writing? Do it with us! Join us for our latest meeting on May 2 at Bread and Brew, at 7pm. Get the details about this and our upcoming meetings, as well as contest deadlines, at our calendar.

Week of WIN is coming! If you’re new win, fell of the wagon for a bit, or simply looking for good programming, check out all the amazing events, including another Writing Group meeting, but this time during lunch. Check out the Week of WIN (or #WoW if you tweet) calendar here.

Now let’s look down the road a bit. You know you’re working on something. We could all use an extra $50,000. So why not apply for the A Room of Her Own Gift of Freedom Award? First prize is $50,000! The other finalists receive $5000 and eligibility to attend a future writing retreat. Now this deadline is pretty far, so if you need an earlier deadline to get you started, consider the AROHO Orlando writing contest.

Want more contests? Aren’t you ambitious? Check these out.

Also, stay tuned for our details Women Opening Doors for Women event! WODW takes place June 14, so mark your calendars now!

Now check this out because it’s funny.

photo from katieflanagan.wordpress.com

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On Writing a Book: Author Advice

“What do you wish you’d known about the process of writing a book that you didn’t know before you did it?”

photo courtesy of Colleen Crinion

Steve Silberman asked that question to a bunch of authors and got a treasure trove of advice. He kindly shares it with us here. Like a lot of advice, some authors share competing viewpoints (share your work with everyone to get as many perspectives as possible, versus share with only a close circle), while others repeat similar sentiments (figure out a way to keep yourself organized and the Internet distractions to a minimum).  On the note of organization, Scrivener came up more than once. Also, since he was asking in regard to his nonfiction book, some of the advice is nonfiction genre-specific, though a lot applies to all writing (see: dealing with Internet distractions). A few highlights are below.

“Don’t forget to write the book that you want to read.”
Mark Frauenfelder, author of The Mad Professor and Rule the Web

“Non-fiction shouldn’t mean poorly written. Writing is writing and art always counts. Make your book beautiful to read and you’re more likely to communicate your messages to your reader.”
Peter Conners, author of Growing Up Dead: The Hallucinated Confessions of a Teenage Deadhead and White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary & Allen Ginsberg

Advice from a Newsweek editor I worked with in the ’80s, Nancy Cooper. Roughly my age, but so much smarter and more worldly and sophisticated. I was worried about writing the opening story of the nation section. And she sent me a note that read: ”You just start working and you keep working til it’s done. That’s all there is to it; no mystery.”
John Schwartz, author of Short: Walking Tall When You’re Not Tall at All 

“Find ways to break it into chunks and set concrete deadlines with friends/agent/editor. I’m sending my agent material every week now. The shit is super rough, but at least I’ve got *something* on page. Also consider a writer’s group. When I asked Bruce Feiler for this advice at the start of Lincoln’s Melancholy, he said: “emotional management.” I told him, yeah, but I really want practical advice, etc. etc., and he repeated the phrase. Writing a book is a crushingly lonely experience in ways that no one who hasn’t been through it can really imagine.”
John Shenk, author of Lincoln’s Melancholy

“You’re going to spend a lot of time in your head. Take care of your physical self too. Be just as committed to that as you are to getting your writing done every day. If you don’t care about your health, think your vanity — there’s an author video and a lot of public appearances in your future.”
Maryn McKenna, author of Superbug and Beating Back the Devil

“Finally: assume your book is going to completely tank commercially. That’ll help you remember that you’re not writing this for the purpose of writing a best-seller (at least I assume you’re not), but because it’s something that you care passionately about and excites you intellectually and because you hope to be able to share your thoughts and observations and conclusions with a group of people you respect and want to discourse with. Everything else is gravy. At the end of the day, what’s important is producing something you believe in…not producing something that’ll catch people’s eyes at B&N.”
Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus and Feeding the Monster

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – for Writing

It’s winter and we are in the midst of the holiday season – what isn’t there to write about? Take a few minutes from your holiday partying to write down some thoughts. With the days so short and the weather only getting colder, this can be a very contemplative time. What are you thinking about?

Here are some ideas to get your pen moving:


  • What do the holidays mean to you?
  • Do you have a New Year’s resolution? Why or why not? If so, what is it?
  • What are you favorite – or least favorite – winter memories?
  • Such short days! How do you make the most of the daylight?
  • Have you been to a really great – or seriously awkward – holiday party? What happened?
  • Did you travel to see your relatives this year? How was it different from last year?

Not much of a holiday person? What else is going on?

  • It’s almost time for the Republican primaries – who do you think will win?
  • How do you feel about the 2012 elections overall?
  • What about the Occupy movement?
  • What about world politics?

It’s also the time of year for lists: best books, films, films based on books, blunders, highlights, etc. Do you agree with the choices? What’s on your Top 10 for 2011?

Make a Top 10 (or 20 or 50) list of the most personally important moments to you that won’t make it on a national or international Top 10 list. Did you get a new job? Get married? Lose someone close to you? Did you take a new yoga class that has changed your perspective? Tried a new recipe? Read a great book? Did you go on a fabulous trip?

Whatever got to you, made you stop and think, gave you inspiration, challenged you like never before, and made this a year to remember, write it down.

If you blog and need help with ideas for posts, check out this list of bloggers who came up with pretty interesting ideas for the past year.

Don’t forget to toast all you have done this year and how much more you can do in 2012.

Happy Writing,

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What’s Your Opinion?

Learn How to Write an Op-Ed & Make Your Voice Heard

Katie Orenstein, founder of The Op-Ed Project

Only 15% of bylines on the opinion pages are women. Some of the most valuable intellectual real estate is the page opposite the editorial, the op-ed page. What do you have to say?
Join us for a discussion on the importance of having more women writing op-eds, and learn how to write and publish a successful op-ed yourself.

Speakers include:
Sui Lang Panoke, Director and Founder of Women Politics Media Foundation, Inc
Kay Steiger, Online Managing Editor at The Washingtonian.
Alyssa Best, Program Manager at The Op-Ed Project
Liz Rose, Communications Director at Campaign for America’s Future

When: 
November 16
6:30 – 8:30pm

Where:
ARHP (Association of Reproductive Health Professionals)
1901 L St NW, Suite 300

 

On Facebook? Check out the event here

#WINOpEd
Questions? Email writing@winonline.org
*photo from ihollaback.org
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Love Your Body. Today and Every Day

This post is part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival. Follow along on Twitter at #lybd.

  • More than 80% of 4th grade girls have been on a fad diet (Social Issues Research Centre).
  • The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by less than 5% of females (Social Issues Research Centre).
  • The average weight of a model is 23% lower than that of an average woman; 20 years ago, the differential was only 8% (Social Issues Research Centre).
  • Each year the U.S. spends over $33 billion on weight-reduction programs, diet foods and beverages (HealthAtoZ.com).
  • 95% of diets fail. (Barbara Cohen, Ph.D., “The Psychology of Ideal Body Image as an Oppressive Force in the Lives of Women,” 1984)
  • Ads on TV and in magazines tend to use the most idealized images of women—research has shown that exposure to these ads negatively impacts body image (Social Issues Research Centre).

image from squidoo.com

It’s a day like any other, really. She is riding the  subway, sitting next to an ad espousing the wonders of yogurt and how it can help you lose weight. There is even a Spanish version. She gets off at the next stop and quickly heads to her destination. She steps inside and takes a seat. She picks up a magazine to pass the time, flipping through pages that promise flat abs in just 10 steps, 5 tricks to make him want you, and the best ways to get rid of unwanted hair. Before she can read the next article, about whether milk is good or bad, she is called in to the office by the nurse, and asked to step on the scale.

A day in the life of a woman is filled with advertising landmines. It’s enough to make us crazy. A million ways to lose weight, all sold to us by one body type. Then there’s hair. If it’s on our heads, we want it luscious and full – and straight if we plan to be taken seriously. Anywhere else, we just want it gone. Bikini season? There’s wax for that. For legs, just use a razor. For eyebrows, try threading. Facial hair? Zap it with electrolysis. It can be exhausting. Tired yet? Hungry maybe? For what? A burger? No, a chicken sandwich is better. Just make sure to get it without the bun. Carbs, you know. Of course, they weren’t always bad. Before everything was low-carb, everything was low-fat. Before that, low-calorie.  Who knows what will be next.

Fortunately, it’s not all bad. Some advertising is actually positive. Some people are turning the gender games on their heads, for optimum comic appeal. Ever wonder what those crazy poses from fashion magazines would look like in real life? One artist did. Or how about if men posed like women? There isn’t anything amusing about those statistics posted above, but it is heartening to know that some folks have found a way to combat them while giving us a little room to laugh along the way.

Looking for a way to take action yourself? Talk about it. Make a video and join other women in sharing your story and your views.

Here a few more ways go positive on yourself:

  1. Indulge on your own terms. Whether it’s fresh veggies from the Farmer’s Market, or a pint of Häagen Dazs Vanilla Fudge ice cream, loving your body is also about loving your taste buds every once in a while.
  2. Stretch your mind and body. Yoga—gentle yoga that encompasses relaxation and a healthy lifestyle, as well as meditative yoga—can bring one to the consciousness of their unique inner being. Yoga can rejuvenate the mind and body and teach us how to care for ourselves.
  3. Read. It can be a source of entertainment, a way to catch up on current events or an educational tool. Several books have been published on loving your body—get some new ideas!
  4. Throw a private party. It worked for India.Arie and it can work for you too. Take a day for yourself and yourself only. Turn off your cell and log out of your instant messenger. Just spend the day looking in the mirror and exploring your body. Once the celebration is over you’ll realize that you learn something new everyday.
  5. Laugh out Loud. This isn’t just an Internet acronym spelled out. It’s an action that will do your body some good. Don’t be afraid to show the world your smile. It’s contagious.
  6. Have safe sex. Loving our bodies is about keeping them healthy and free from diseases. And besides, there’s nothing like getting a two for one on Love Your Body Day. (Of course, sex with yourself is always safe…)
  7. Spend time with your family. Whether it’s a pet or partner, your spouse or a sibling, quality time is a must-have in nurturing relationships which in turn nurture and love your body.
  8. Listen to positive music. Developing a theme song can do wonders for your body esteem and your overall outlook.
  9. Develop a creative outlet. Everyone needs a medium to express daily stress and frustrations constructively. Maybe you’re a photographer, writer, poet or all three. Maybe you can knit, make shapes out of clay or finger paint. Loving your body is also about loving your mind.
  10. Contribute to NOW Foundation so that they continue to give great ideas through the Love Your Body Campaign (P.S. It’s even tax-deductible!). Send them your ideas
Also, there is a Love Your Body Day for belly dancers. That’s just awesome.

*Thanks to NOW for the lists.

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The ACA and Why Women Need to Vote in 2012

This blog is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival

photo credit: utahinsfaqs.blogspot.com

Passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was an arduous process. A lot of us wished for different outcomes in some regard. It cannot be denied, however, that this reform to our nation’s health care system has delivered great benefits to millions of women and their families. Repeal of this act would endanger the progress we’ve made. Make no mistake, while many are coming around and realizing how beneficial this legislation is, stiff opposition remains.

Here are just a few of the benefits that women can access because of the ACA:

  • Young adults are allowed to stay on their parent’s plan until they turn 26.
  • Insurance companies are prohibited from imposing lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits, like hospital stays.
  • Insurance companies can not deny coverage to children under the age of 19 due to a pre-existing condition.
  • More small businesses are offering health insurance to their employees, thanks to a new tax credit.
  • No more gender discrimination. Insurance plans receiving federal funds will not be able to charge women more for services disproportionately used by women.
  • The ACA guarantees access to preventive services like mammograms and cervical cancer screening.
  • The ACA assures that pregnant and parenting women on Medicaid get access to needed services including education about post-partum depression, anti-smoking programs and violence prevention.
  • Older women will save thousands of dollars as the reform closes the prescription drug gap (aka the “donut hole”)
  • Family caregivers now have more support. The ACA establishes Geriatric Education Centers to support training in geriatrics, chronic care management, as well as mental health and dementia best care practices – all at little to no cost.

For more information on the benefits of the ACA, including the timeline of when everything goes into effect (some aspects will not go into effect until 2014), be sure to check out www.healthcare.gov. At a time when so many women and families are suffering from unemployment, underemployment or the exorbitant medical costs incurred before this act, now is simply not the time to repeal this protection. Too much is at stake. Quite frankly, lives are on the line.

Thanks to the National Partnership for Women and Families for much of the information cited here.

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Stay Home on Election Day. Especially not girlfriends.

This blog is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival

photo from findingdulcinea.com

Do you like living in a representative democracy? Do you like social safety nets like social security and medicare? How about the right to full reproductive health care including abortion? Or access to health care at all? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to make sure to vote. Better yet, make sure your friends vote too.

In case you need some reminders of the hard-won battles that we benefit from today, especially those that help women, here’s a list (thanks WIN and Ms.):

1. Women’s Right to Vote (1920)
The 19th amendment was passed by the states in 1920 and guaranteed all American women the right to vote. Since then, women have surpassed men both in the proportion and numbers of women who vote.

Threat: Instead of advocating a 21st century voting system, conservative legislatures in 30 states are attempting to turn the clock back to the 19th century when only privileged white males were allowed to vote. Newly imposed ID requirements in some states target students, people of color and women. As many as 32 million women of voting age do not have documentation with their current legal name.

2. Social Security Act (1935)
Women represent 57 percent of all Social Security beneficiaries age 62 and older and approximately 68 percent of all beneficiaries age 85 and older. Social Security is the bedrock of women’s financial security in the later years of their lives.

Threat: Bills introduced by conservative congressional members would gut the current
Social Security program and disproportionally impact women’s economic security.

3. Medicare (1965)
Medicare is the nation’s health insurance program seniors and younger adults with permanent disabilities. More than half (56%) of all Medicare beneficiaries are women.

Threat: The conservative majority of the House of Representative passed a fiscal year 2012 budget bill that will effectively end Medicare and replace it for those now under 55 with a voucher to buy private insurance. It would increase out-of-pocket health care costs, limit benefits and choice of doctors.

4. Medicaid (1965)
Medicaid provides 19 million women access to vital health services at all stages of their lives. In 2007 nearly seven in ten elderly individuals who relied on Medicaid for assistance were women.

Threat: Under the conservative House budget, Medicaid was targeted for deep budget cuts and converted into capped block grants to states. Medicaid still faces threats as the Joint Select Committee on Debt Reduction deliberates and identifies an additional $1.5 trillion in budget cuts.

5. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964)
Title VII passed in 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Title VII covers all employment actions, including hiring, promotion, and termination, as well as all of the terms and conditions of employment and has been central to expanding women’s economic opportunities.

Threat: Recent actions by conservative Senators and the conservative-majority on the
Supreme Court have weakened employment discrimination laws and placed women’s rights in jeopardy.

6. Title X, The National Family Planning Program (1972)
In 1972, Title X, America’s national family planning program, was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. More than 5 million individuals receive health care through Title X clinics.

Threat: For the first time in history, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to completely defund Title X in 2011. Nine states have reduced family planning funding through legislative action and one (NJ) has eliminated it through Governor veto.

7. Title IX of the Education Amendments (1972)
Title IX, passed by Congress in 1972, prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs or activities. Title IX greatly expanded equal access to sports opportunities so that today girls and women represent 40% of all college and high school athletes.

Threat: A combination of budget cuts, regulations held over from the Bush Administration and pressure from congressional opponents threatens to weaken enforcement of Title IX.

8. Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision (1973)
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Roe v. Wade that a right to privacy under the 14th Amendment extended to a women’s decision to have an abortion.

Threat: Anti abortion members of Congress have introduced legislation that would make
all abortions illegal and essentially overturn Roe v. Wade. In 2011, over 1000 pieces of legislation have been introduced and 162 bills have been passed at the state level to restrict access to abortion and/or family planning, the most since 1973.

9. The Violence Against Women Act (1994)
The Violence Against Women Act passed by Congress in 1994, created the first U.S. federal legislation acknowledging the severity of crimes related to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and violence against women.

Threat: VAWA will expire at the end of the 2011 unless it is reauthorized. The law also
requires updates and strengthening, including provisions that will help protect students on campus who are consistently subject to sexual harassment, assault and violence. Despite this, no action has yet been taken to ensure VAWA is reauthorized for the years to come.

10. The Affordable Care Act (2010)
The Affordable Care Act of 2010, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, covers well woman preventive health services, such as an annual well-woman visit, contraceptives, mammograms and cancer screenings, prenatal care and counseling for domestic violence, as basic health care for women at no additional cost. Combined with other provisions, the ACA is an historic step forward for women’s health and economic security.

Threat: Conservative members of Congress as well as conservative state legislators
and governors have pledged to repeal ACA and deny women, of all ages, critical
preventive care services.

photo from femalesinfront.euOur system may not be perfect but it has one great silver lining built right in: the right to vote out those we don’t like and vote in those we do. Take a moment to reach out to your friends and family and ask them to vote. Send all your friends a reminder text on election day. Better yet, start now and remind them to make sure they’re registered. Let’s make a new slogan: Friends Don’t Let Friends Stay Home on Election Day. Especially not girlfriends.

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WODW Recap: Turn Your Passion into Your Profession: Tips for Getting Published

image from staff.esuhsd.org

One of the many wonderful things about being in WIN is Women Opening Doors for Women (WODW). It’s a night filled with access to amazing women who are not only shining in their careers, but willing to sit down with other women and share their expertise. It’s a night to relive the reason that WIN got started: to give women a chance to help other women succeed. Last Wednesday, it delivered once more.

The Writing Group planned a dinner on the subject of getting published, and were truly blessed with an amazing group of speakers, including our host. In all, we had four authors to talk with, listen to and learn from. We are sill glowing from the evening. The authors and a recap of their advice are below.

Cathy Alter
Author of “Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over” www.cathyalter.com

Holly Kearl
Author of “Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women” http://www.hollykearl.com/

Ruth Schimel
Ph.D., Career and Life Management Consultant, Writer of book series “Choose Courage” www.ruthschimel.com

Allison Silberberg
Author of “Visionaries In Our Midst: Ordinary People who are Changing our World” www.allisonsilberberg.com

Holly explained that she had already started a website and a blog in addition to her thesis, and that this established identity and credibility- especially the CNN story featuring her Master’s thesis – which helped earn publisher attention. She recommended starting a blog or other route to get your name and expertise out there in advance. She published without an agent, querying mainly academic publishers directly, but did find that her book is more expensive than she would have preferred and is limited in where it can be sold. Holly also gave everyone a 2-page document on how to write a book proposal, which will undoubtedly prove useful. Once she became known for her work, reading comments became bit of a landmine. She recommended avoiding the “trolls” as much as possible.

Allison shared that she keeps her stack of rejection letters to remind her that writing is not personal, it’s a business. The only failure, she urged us, is in not trying. She told that she has even kept in touch with some of the publishers who rejected her proposal. Sometimes it isn’t so much that they don’t like your book, it’s that they do not publish in that style or genre, or cannot accept any more while you are soliciting. She recommended creating an Excel sheet to track who you submit to, when, and if you get a response. In order to find and agent, she and Cathy recommended looking through books similar to the one you’d like to write and looking to see if the author thanked his/her agent (they often do) and then Googling that person. You can also ask booksellers for similar books or suggestions of where to query. Echoing Holly’s avoidance of the trolls, she cautioned that the naysayers will ruin you if you let them – but that life is too short, and “nobody knows nothin’.” Protect your energy and look for communities – writing groups (we totally agree), an assortment of readers, or similar venue. She reminded everyone to respect criticism even if you don’t agree with it. Above all though, write from the heart, and write with passion, but don’t be preachy. Keep in mind, in 5-10 years, when you look back, what do you want to see?

More practically, find a lawyer to go through your contract and negotiate; get your work copyrighted in your name (the Library of Congress does this) and make sure your contract specifies that it can be revisited in a year (also recommended by Ruth). The author often receives an advance, anywhere from $5-$40,000, when signing with an agent. Allison further shared the experience of a friend who chose to do developmental publishing (an option between self-publishing and traditional), and the nuts and bolts of how to go about it. This route brings financial risk, as the author pays about $35,000 to get it up and running. Royalties through agent-bargaining usually yields 5-15%; developmental publishing usually brings much higher royalties (~30%). But no matter how you publish, you need to “market the heck out of yourself.” Remember though, you don’t have to do it all in one week. Pace yourself for a marathon, not a sprint. Write an article for a newspaper or a magazine and mention that you are writing a book. Also, when you begin to send out proposals, know that they may ask to see the first three chapters, so have those ready. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to self-publish, academic classes will not consider purchasing.

Cathy set us amateurs at ease by reporting that though publishing is daunting – she used to think writing a “Talk of the Town” piece for the New Yorker was her highest aspiration – it really is possible. Underscoring the emphasis that Holly and Allison put on believing in yourself and just getting started, Cathy recommended the “bum in chair” method to get things done: just sit down and write. She also encouraged the practical – practice your craft and think about what will sell in order to be a good, successful writer. Become an expert in your area. She went through an agent as well, and recommended that route. As Holly and Allison also said, Cathy advised having an elevator pitch ready. Be able to explain your book in 2-3 sentences. Some resources that Cathy suggested checking out are the Writer’s Center and the American Association of Independent Writers.

Ruth lent her experience and wisdom, sharing many materials that may be of use to us in our search for passion. She broke down and defined the terms ‘courage’ and ‘passion,’  and instructed us to remember that “all work is in self-revelation.” She also said to “speak from what has meaning for you.” In addition she also shared these quotes:

All good work requires self-revelation. – Sidney Lumet

As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live. – Goethe

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