Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Writing Around a Day Job, Guest Post by Jennifer Roland

Welcome Jennifer Roland, author of Ten Takes on Writing, with a guest post on tips about finding time in your hectic schedule to write. (Something I know a just a teeny-weeny about!)

How to Write around a Day Job

by Jennifer Roland

When I was a kid dreaming about being a writer, most of my visions involved a dedicated writing space, all the time in the world to devote to writing, and frequent visits by the muse. Picture Jo March in modern garb and sitting in front of a computer rather than a typewriter.

Well, the computer’s there. But not much else lived up to my fantasy.

For the past eight years, I’ve been writing around a day job in marketing.

Yes, that means I spend my days writing direct mail sales letters, newsletter copy, social media posts, and whatever else my employer needs from me. When I get home, I shift to freelance writing work and personal projects, as well as family responsibilities. Dogs must be fed and kiddo must be bathed, after all.

To make it all work, I’ve had to adjust my image of what it means to be a writer.

Schedule Everything
I have specific times of day I can do specific things.

I schedule interviews before work or during my lunch hour. This means 90% of my interviews are done in my car. I take advantage of my Bluetooth connection with my smartphone and take copious notes.

When I get home from work, it’s dinner, bonding time with my son, feeding the dogs, bath time for my son, and then back to work. There is a lot more coffee and energy drinks involved in my writing then I thought there would be!

On weekends, morning time is for writing and client work, and afternoon is for family. Then, just like a student, I finish up projects and get prepped for the week on Sunday nights before bed.

Use a Portable Writer’s Kit
I have been using a portable writer’s kit for years, and it is the absolute key to getting anything done.

Mine includes:
·       A purse that is designed to hold a laptop
·       My laptop or tablet, depending on what I need to get done
·       A Circa notebook
·       A spiral notebook and pen
·       My smartphone

This allows me to do work on my lunch break when I need to, and to do those interviews I mentioned earlier. My Circa notebook is for taking to-do lists and notes about all my grand plans, and the spiral notebooks are for interview notes and notes during client calls.

Learn to Write Anywhere
I have written entire articles on my lunch break in a parking lot in my car. (I may or may not have used McDonald’s free wifi to send it to my editor. And I’ll never tell which article it was.)

I’ve gone to coffee shops on PTO days to get stuff done, and at night, I’m working on the couch with the dogs and occasional interruptions when my son needs goldfish. Apparently, only mommy can get those.

Practice writing in all different situations so you can get the words flowing no matter where you are, how uncomfortable it is, and how many distractions are around you.

Ask for Help
After bath time, my son hangs out with my husband so that I can focus. When I’m doing interviews at home, my mom makes sure my son (and the dogs) are quiet. I would simply not be able to get things done in the short amount of time available around my day job.

Are you writing around a day job? Tell us what keeps you going in the comments below.

*Thank you, Jennifer Roland, for your helpful tips. I do schedule time to write and attempt to write on the go. I'd love to hear from my readers with their clever ways to find time to write.
*Also, much appreciation to WOW - Women On Writing for providing this stop on Jennifer Roland's Blog Tour.

Jennifer Roland is a freelance and marketing writer with more than 20 years experience in newspaper, magazine, and marketing environments. Jennifer also works as a virtual assistant to writers, helping them build their online presence and connect with readers so they can focus on what they love — writing.
She loves fiction and writes that under the name Jennifer C. Rodland. She hopes to put all of the lessons she learned writing this book into getting more of that published.

Jennifer can be found online at:

BOOK SUMMARY: Pacific Northwest Writers
Ten Takes on Writing summary: From novelists to poets to playwrights, Jennifer Roland interviews a variety of authors who have one thing in common — they have all chosen to make the Pacific Northwest their home. Covering a diversity of disciplines — from comics, fantasy, and detective novels to long-form poetry and illustrated children's series — 10 distinguished authors provide unique perspectives about their craft, provide helpful writing advice and tips for success, and share their passion for living and writing in the Pacific Northwest.


For more information about
Blog Hostess, Audry Fryer,
Please visit www.audryfryer.com

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Local Author - One Book at a Time, Guest Post by Susan G. Weidener

Welcome Susan G. Weidner, author of A Portrait of Love and Honor: A Novel Based on a True Story.

The Local Author – One Book at a Time

By Susan G. Weidener

When you find a few good people to spread the word about your book, then setting up tables and displays at fall festivals, standing in burning hot sun all day, and talking to people, who even after a lengthy conversation don’t buy your book, makes it all worth it. Why? You have met potential readers, shared something meaningful.  
After a workout class at the Y, a woman stopped me. She had read Again in a Heartbeat. She went on to tell me that following a power outage brought on by high winds and heavy rains, she read my book, finishing it by flashlight. “Your memoir brought tears to my eyes,” she said. “I, too, loved my husband dearly. How I miss him.” We briefly talked about dialysis. Her husband had been on it, as had mine. I knew this woman would remember my book and recommend it to a friend.

Another encounter:  By chance I ran into a woman in the hardware store parking lot. She had come to the Women’s Writing Circle and read my memoir, Morning at Wellington Square

On that day, at that moment, she confronted the imminent death of her mother. “I believe some things are meant to be. Your story came to me at the time I most needed it,” she said.  I had written about my mother’s death following a stroke and in some way it helped her realize she wasn’t alone in confronting the downhill spiral and death of her parent.

These are but two of the dozens and dozens of readers who have approached me, shared their views on my books and told me how my stories resonated with them personally in the five-year journey since my entrance into the publishing world as an independent author.  

Now, with A Portrait of Love and Honor, a novel based on a true story, I again await the reactions of readers. My story is about one man and one woman’s quest to find honor and connection in a world that is often rife with disillusionment and cynicism. It is about sharing a deeply personal love story based on my late husband’s memoir.


I'm a local author. I’m excited to help women and men get their stories where they want – whether read in the Circle, a few copies published for family, or for a broader audience.

People never ask me who published my book. They don’t care. If we get caught up in the politics of publishing, we run the risk of losing the reasons why we write; as well as eroding the ambition necessary to see a book through from beginning to end, getting it in print against all odds. 

Ways I have connected with the community:

  • Book signings and talks at libraries and bookstores
  • Sharing with book clubs
  • Offering writing workshops
  • Facilitating my own writing group

Wasn’t it always about the simple act of faith in the written word?  . . . facing the blank page each morning over a hot cup of coffee and hoping to write something worthy that would touch a few folks? Conversations and connections drive the local author as we reach our audience, one person, and one book at a time. 

*Blogger's note: I was so excited to learn that Susan's writer's group meets a short distance from my home! Susan, I hope my schedule (who am I kidding ... my children's schedule) allows me to join one of your critique groups sometime soon! I so appreciate authors who make it a priority to help other aspiring and developing authors. 
About A Portrait of Love and Honor:
Newly-divorced and on her own, 40-something Ava Stuart forges a new life. One day, at a signing in the local library for her novel, a tall, dark-haired man walks in and stands in the back of the room. Jay Scioli is a wanderer – a man who has said good-bye to innocence, the U. S. Army, and corporate America. His outlook on life having changed, his health shattered by illness, he writes a memoir. In his isolation, he searches for an editor to help him pick up the loose ends. Time may be running out. He is drawn to the striking and successful Ava. Facing one setback after another, their love embraces friendship, crisis, dignity, disillusionment. Their love story reflects a reason for living in the face of life’s unexpected events. 

Based on a true story, A Portrait of Love and Honor takes the reader from the halls of the United States Military Academy at West Point during the Vietnam War to a moving love story between two people destined to meet.

About the Author:
Susan G. Weidener is a former journalist with The Philadelphia Inquirer. She has interviewed a host of interesting people from all walks of life, including Guy Lombardo, Bob Hope, Leonard Nimoy, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and Mary Pipher.  She left journalism in 2007 and after attending a women’s writing retreat, wrote and published her memoir, Again in a Heartbeat, a memoir of love, loss and dating again, about being widowed at a young age. Two years later, she wrote and published its sequel, Morning at Wellington Square, a woman’s search for passion and renewal in middle age. Her novel, A Portrait of Love and Honor, completes the trilogy, inspired by and dedicated to her late husband, John M. Cavalieri, on whose memoir the novel is based.  Susan earned a BA in Literature from American University and a master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania. An editor, writing coach and teacher of writing workshops, she founded the Women’s Writing Circle, a support and critique group for writers in suburban Philadelphia. She lives in Chester Springs, PA.  Her website is: www.susanweidener.com

Thank you to WOW - Women on Writing for providing this stop on Susan G. Weidner's blog tour!


For more information about blog hostess, Audry Fryer,
please visit: www.audryfryer.com

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Book Review: "Fling" by Lily Iona MacKenzie.

I'm so excited to share my review of Fling by Lily Iona Mackenzie. Lovers of magical realism, this one's for you!


Fling takes the reader on a magical journey from Scotland to Canada to Mexico. One part fictional memoir encompassing nearly a decade of living, one part portrait of a strained yet matured mother-daughter relationship and one part fantasy, Fling is anything but your mundane read!

With rich characters and vibrant settings, Fling focuses on the lives of Feather and her mother, Bubbles as they travel to Mexico to reclaim the ashes of Bubbles' long deceased mother. As the story progresses, we learn of the trials and tribulations of Bubbles' last ninety years, how she once left her daughter, Feather, behind just as Bubbles' own mother once left her and how these three generations of woman are actually all named Heather, despite the nicknames they eventually chose to reflect their individual personalities.

Magical realism dominates much of the last third of the book. At times, it feels as if Feather and Bubbles have followed "Alice" down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. Except, in this story, Wonderland is rural and impoverished Mexico and it exists on a parallel plane where death is merely another state of living.

If you aren't able to take an adventurous vacation this year, Fling is the next best alternative. You won't soon forget Bubbles whose effervescent name matches her buoyant ability to never act nor succumb to her advanced age.


The actual feather we found!
As I sat outside writing this review one pleasant summer afternoon, my son, Evan, playing
at my feet with his toy dinosaur collection happened to discover a feather. Yes, a feather, just like the name of the daughter's character in Fling. Evan and I decided with its orange and white coloring that it must belong to the oriole we see frequenting our yard from time to time. Of course, with magical realism still on my mind, a quick internet search revealed the finding of feathers as a spiritual symbol, perhaps from angels, with the color orange representing creativity and success from maintaining a positive outlook.  

Thank you to WOW - Women on Writing for providing this stop on Lily Iona Mackenzie's blog tour!

About the Author:
A Canadian by birth, a high school dropout, and a mother at 17, in her early years, Lily Iona MacKenzie supported herself as a stock girl in the Hudson’s Bay Company, as a long distance operator for the former Alberta Government Telephones, and as a secretary (Bechtel Corp sponsored her into the States). She also was a cocktail waitress at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, briefly broke into the male-dominated world of the docks as a longshoreman (and almost got her legs broken), founded and managed a homeless shelter in Marin County, and eventually earned two Master’s degrees (one in Creative writing and one in the Humanities). She has published reviews, interviews, short fiction, poetry, travel pieces, essays, and memoir in over 140 American and Canadian venues. Fling, one of her novels, will be published in July 2015 by Pen-L Publishing. Bone Songs, another novel, will be published in 2016. Her poetry collection All This was published in 2011. She also teaches writing at the University of San Francisco, is vice-president of USF's part-time faculty union, paints, and travels widely with her husband. 

Visit her blog at:


Book Summary: 

When ninety-year-old Bubbles receives a letter from Mexico City asking her to pick up her mother’s ashes, lost there seventy years earlier and only now surfacing, she hatches a plan. A woman with a mission, Bubbles convinces her hippie daughter Feather to accompany her on the quest. Both women have recently shed husbands and have a secondary agenda: they’d like a little action. And they get it. 

Alternating narratives weave together Feather and Bubbles’ odyssey. The two women travel south from Canada to Mexico where Bubbles’ long-dead mother, grandmother, and grandfather turn up, enlivening the narrative with their hilarious antics. 

In Mexico, where reality and magic co-exist, Feather gets a new sense of her mother, and Bubbles’ quest for her mother’s ashes—and a new man—increases her zest for life. Unlike most women her age, fun-loving Bubbles takes risks, believing she’s immortal. She doesn’t hold back in any way, eating heartily and lusting after strangers, exulting in her youthful spirit.

Readers will believe they’ve found the fountain of youth themselves in this character. At ninety, Bubbles comes into her own, coming to age, proving it’s never too late to fulfill one’s dreams.  

For information about blog hostess, Audry Fryer,
please visit www.audryfryer.com