“Finding Balance in December” / Kerry Parry

(Kerry Parry’s creative non-fiction book about her search for spirituality, Conversations With the Faithful, was published by WiDo in 2017. She posts on all things philosophical, spiritual, thoughtful and creative on her website, kerryparry.com. Her post, “Winter Solstice–Finding Balance” was originally published on her website and appears here with the author’s permission.)

One of my favorite days of the year is approaching. No, it’s not Christmas day. That arbitrary date to acknowledge the miracle of Jesus’ birth has long since been hijacked by the overwhelming pressures of consumerism for me to truly enjoy. The day I really appreciate is the Winter Solstice, which comes and goes almost without notice during the days before Christmas. I can feel my sense of balance returning on this quiet day before the big holiday.

On the solstice, we reach the tipping point between dark and light when day and night are equally in balance. Technically, December 21, 2017 is the longest night of the year. It’s also the first day of Winter, which could be depressing, but I find comfort in knowing that from my spot on the planet (in the Northern hemisphere) the days will get incrementally longer. I find great promise in that.

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“The Craft of Creativity” / Scott Keen

(Scott Keen is the author of YA fantasy novels Scar of the Downers (WiDo Publishing, 2015) and Rise of the Branded (WiDo Publishing, 2017). He blogs at ScottKeenBooks.com. This post originally appeared on his website and appears here with his permission.)

Creativity is a craft. No matter how much we would like it to be a naturally occurring trait, it often involves hard work and dedication. And it is never easy. It is a muscle, if you will, that needs to be exercised. If it isn’t, it is in danger of atrophy.

I have had conversations with people who say that they’re not that creative. I would wholeheartedly disagree. Being creative doesn’t mean ideas pop out of you at a whim or on command. (I wish it were so).

Usually, it involves a lot of pen to paper, and many discarded ideas before you come up with something that someone might describe as creative.


​I was rereading a book, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, and I came across a letter he had written on 18 February 1938 to Stanley Unwin. In it, he commented on the difficulty he was having while writing his new novel.

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“When will you move?” / Lisa Kusel

This post was originally published as a first-person essay on parent co., May 3, 2017. It also appeared on the author’s website On Monkey Forest Road, under the title “Mother, May I?” It is used here with the author’s permission.

When my husband, Victor, was offered a teaching job at a new school in Bali, I held off sharing the news with my mother for as long as humanly possible. I knew that when I told her we were moving her Jew-ish granddaughter to a predominately Muslim country, the arrow on her paranoia meter would swiftly catapult beyond the red zone. I expected her to fret and cry and do all she could to change my mind.

What I didn’t expect, though, was that she would be so wise.

I called her on a Tuesday morning. She listened silently as I recapped the events of the last few weeks: from reading about the school in a magazine, to convincing Victor to send a resume, to his Skype interview, to him flying to Bali to check it out, to him coming back to California with a signed contract.

When I finished speaking, I tensed, waiting for the emotional storm to blow through the phone line. “When will you move?” She asked so calmly I thought perhaps I’d called someone else by mistake.

“In six weeks. We have to find renters and pack up the house and deal with the cat and get a million shots and—” I got so anxious thinking about the list that I cut myself off. “Anyway, we’re really excited. It’s going to be amazing.”

“Loy is only six years old.”

Here it comes, I thought. She’s going to let loose her worries bit by bit, like an IV drip. “So what, she’s six? She’s going to love it. I mean, come on, Mom. It’s Bali!”

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“New Winery, Old Friends, Perfect Alchemy” / Joanell Serra

Joanell Serra’s novel “The Vines We Planted” is currently in editing with WiDo Publishing, scheduled to be released in 2018. Joanell has drawn upon the Sonoma Valley region where she lives as the setting in her novel. This post about combining her feelings of the region with the fiction in her writing originally appeared on her website. We use it with permission from the author.

My husband, daughter and a few of our closest friends sink into extra deep couches at a new winery on the Sonoma Square. I am between edits on my forth-coming novel, and am determined to enjoy the novel’s setting while I wait.

Rancho Maria, on 1st Street, next to the (ever delicious) Harvest Moon Café, is a cool oasis on a hot day.

The wine maker, Sebastian, whom we’ve met on one previous visit, makes us his guests. He grabs a seat with us as he explains each healthy taste he pours. He is engaging, young, personable, and most importantly, makes darn good wine. His family owns the ranch, and Sebastian grew up around “wine people”- friends and family in the Healdsburg area.

Listening him talk about the grapes, the delicate alchemy in a red blend, the way the sun comes through a Cabernet, is a lot like poetry.  His admiration and commitment to his family comes through as he describes the ranch and it’s busy workings. This is truly a family owned winery, the type we need to support. And these wines make it very tempting.

The main character of my novel, The Vines We Planted, grew up on a similar ranch. In the novel, Uriel splits his time between the family’s two businesses – the winery and the horse stables.  Like Sebastian, Uriel is young, philosophical, and hard not to like. As the wine maker talks, I feel a strange blending of fiction and life.

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“Preparing for a Children’s Book Event” / Scott Keen

(Scott Keen is the author of YA fantasy novels Scar of the Downers (WiDo Publishing, 2015) and Rise of the Branded (WiDo Publishing, 2017). He blogs at ScottKeenBooks.com. This post originally appeared on his website and appears here with his permission.)

Recently, I attended the “Ready Set Fun! Bookfest” hosted by the local PBS station. There were lots of children and adults, and many booths. I brought my own children, who loved the afternoon.


​​The turnout was great and I was able to meet a number of nice people. I even sold a few books!

​Each booth was to have games or activities that would engage children. Since my books are fantasy novels, the task of creating activities based on my books seemed daunting. What was I going to do? How would I use it as a tie-in for my novel?

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“Description in Novel-Writing– Too Much, Too Little?” / E. Rose Sabin

The following guest post is by novelist E. Rose Sabin, (Seduction of the Scepter, WiDo Publishing 2012), originally appearing on her blog at erosesabin.wordpress.com. It deals with a typical writerly issue: how much character description to include? The post is re-published here with Sabin’s permission.

Today’s blog raises a question I don’t have an answer for: How much description is too much, and how little description is too little?

When I write, I tend to be spare in regard to description. I think it’s largely due to the fact that when I read, I prefer to use my imagination to visualize a character’s appearance and dress. Also, I don’t like reading a story that pauses the action to give lengthy descriptions unless those descriptions are vital to the plot. In some stories the setting plays such a vital part that it must be described in detail. In all stories some sense of place is necessary, but the amount of description needed to provide that sense of place varies according to the type of story it is.

cover artIn my book Seduction of the Scepter, I set the novel in a fictitious country, but I located that country in our world in a specific historical time and in a specific region of the world: eastern Europe in the mid 1700s. Although using a fictitious country allowed me latitude to invent the political system and certain customs, those had to at least fit into the time period. Although I used no actual historical events or personages, I researched the styles of dress and hair, the popular foods, the music and dance, the religious and social customs of the era and drew on that research to make the story believable.

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“A Year Without Facebook” / Elizabeth Maria Naranjo

The following post is by author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo (The Fourth Wall, WiDo, 2014). It originally appeared on her website, and we are reprinting it here with her permission. Although we encourage our authors to stay visible via social media if it’s what they enjoy, there are certain times and sites that can be more of a burden than a joy. Elizabeth’s blog post on quitting Facebook is timely, thoughtful and will no doubt strike a chord with many.

Last May, with a deep sense of relief, I quietly deactivated my Facebook account. Since that day one year ago, I have not logged back on. This is not a self-congratulatory post; I’m writing it because I know many people are overwhelmed with Facebook and have considered quitting it for good too, and if you’re one of them, I want to help if I can.

If you absolutely love Facebook or have never considered walking away because it’s a great way to stay connected to distant family and old friends or you need it for your job or you are too involved with groups that only operate there etc., it’s fine. You don’t need to justify that to anyone. This post isn’t for you.

If, however, you often find yourself weighing the pros and cons of the site and wondering if you could do without it because most of the time you actually hate it or you hate the way you feel about yourself and/or people you like/love when spending time on it, this post is for you.

Here’s what to expect when you break up with Facebook:

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“Dealing with ADHD as a Writer” / Lisa Kusel

(The following post originally appeared on Lisa’s website. We are reprinting it here in its entirety with her permission.)

Because I make my living as a writer, people might be surprised to know that I have a hard time reading. While the act of writing feels as natural to me as breathing, moving my eyes from word to word on a page sometimes feels akin to pulling a heavy cart uphill.

When I was twenty-five, I asked my eye doctor why, when I read, the white spaces between the words on a page sometimes pop out at me, and why, when I reach the end of a sentence, I often have trouble finding my way to the beginning of the next sentence. I also read slowly and—as demonstrated by my SAT and GRE scores—I suffered from poor reading comprehension.

He said I have a reading disability. “You mean, like dyslexia?” I asked. He shook his head and said there was no real term for my imperfect brain-to-eye connection, but if I wanted to focus better I should 1) move a black sheet of construction paper down the page, sentence by sentence; or 2) trace along the sentences with my finger or a pencil eraser.


I used those strategies to propel me through graduate school—a piece of black paper was always sticking out from the scholarly texts I lugged around Brown University’s campus. I also was quick to join study sessions, where I would glean from conversation all that I’d missed from my readings.

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“Marketing for the Socially Awkward Introvert” / Liesel Jones

Liesel Jones, author of Roxanne in La La Land by L.A. DeVaul (Wido Publishing, 2011), shares her favorite method of marketing. Being a socially awkward introvert, Liesel speaks from painful experience. She sometimes blogs at Sapphire Cat.

Let’s face it, some of us writers are more secluded, nervous about making eye contact, than others. And that’s fine. We all have our unique powers. But the question that used to get me down is: if I’m not outgoing and smiling and talking to people about my book, how will I sell anything?

So your book is coming out, or it’s out already, and you have heard the success stories about being a great marketer by doing simple things like posting on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever else. You will probably create a website or blog and convince yourself you can be outgoing for a while. And you are; blogging with personality and unleashing your charm on Twitter. But it feels forced. You can’t keep it up forever and those bestseller numbers – or any numbers – just aren’t coming.

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“How My Essay Squeaked into The New York Times” / David Kalish

DavidAuthor 043David Kalish writes essays, novels, and plays. He is the author of The Opposite of Everything (WiDo Publishing, 2014), a romantic comedy and cancer story rolled into one. This post originally appeared in the Times Union blog where Kalish contributes regularly.

For several years now, my wife has urged me—in no uncertain terms—to submit an essay to “Modern Love,” a column in The New York Times that explores the complexities of modern relationships.

I hemmed and hawed. Despite having a compelling story to tell—how my cancer derailed our dreams and brought us unexpectedly closer — I knew my chances of acceptance by The Times were miniscule. Moreover, I was reluctant to revisit painful real-life material.

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