Monday, August 30, 2010

MWG Spotlight: Joy Wooderson

Joy Wooderson, a MWG member and a member of the Saturday Writers chapter, is our first Monday Member.  She is the author of Finding Joy: One Woman’s Journey Back to Faith.

How long did it take to write Finding Joy: One Woman’s Journey Back to Faith?

The germ of the idea dropped into my mind and heart around 2000. I had discovered after 13 years of business writing that I enjoyed the creative process, and I felt the urge to write about what I had learned on my spiritual quest. However, personal writing is a giant step away from business writing. I realized I had a lot to learn. My library expanded as I gathered books about the craft of writing personal stories.

It took my moving to St. Louis in 2004 to really spur me on. My original manuscript was cut, the story was split, then put together, then edited, then expanded, then it changed course, and I finally published the story of my spiritual journey in 2009.

This is your story. Did you have any apprehension about sharing your story with others?

Major apprehension! I remember sitting at a friend’s kitchen table crying my eyes out over fear of making myself so vulnerable to criticism and even ridicule from people who knew me. The scariest aspect was the fact that I challenged many accepted theories being spread and accepted without question in the modern religious world—and I didn’t have a D.D. or Ph.D. behind my name. I was merely an ordinary woman with an inquiring mind who decided to test inherited beliefs. My commitment to be candid and painfully honest about my experiences made my struggle worse. It took several years before I plucked up the courage to fully bare my soul in the book.

What do you hope to accomplish about sharing your story?

Not fame, certainly. Writing my story was never an ego trip—far from it. In fact, the thought of putting myself “out there” for book signings, speaking, or talking about the book was daunting. And it looks like it won’t be money, either! I’m still waiting for funds for my next cruise. Although I had many obstacles to overcome, the conviction that I had something worthwhile to share with others who might be searching for a spiritual connection kept me from giving up. I wanted to write a book that would make the reader think about their religious beliefs, and hopefully take a fresh look at Christianity, as I did.

What do you want people to know about you that wasn’t in your story?

There’s another whole book waiting to be written about that—if I can pluck up more courage. But for now, enough to say that the woman I am today is almost unrecognizable from the inhibited, disillusioned, insecure young woman who arrived in the U.S. in 1971 at age 32. To play on the title of my book, I found Joy again—the happy child who started out so joyfully and whose life went down hill after age seven.

What type of writing schedule do you have?

I’m a thinker, whose mind seldom rests. I do a lot of sitting and watching leaves grow or mindlessly gazing at the television. But when I’ve got my thoughts together, I can sit and write for hours and completely lose track of time. I would say my schedule is erratic, and at times productive.

You belong to a critique group. What advice can you offer to others who are looking for a critique group?

Finding a good critique group is essential for anyone who wants to pursue writing seriously. My advice is to do whatever is necessary to connect with like-minded folks, either in person or online, who can point out flaws in your writing or bring to your attention habits of which you are unaware. More than that, a good group will share what they have learned from conferences, seminars, etc. And most importantly, they will be there to encourage you along the challenging path of becoming a writer.

Do you prefer to read non-fiction or fiction? And why?

I’ve had to read a lot of non-fiction books about the craft of writing, plus I studied many books covering the issues with which I had to deal. But when I want to escape and get my mind absorbed in something unrelated to writing, I read mysteries and spy novels. However, I remain discriminating in my taste and stick with authors who know the art of language and have the ability to tell an engrossing story. I’m off serial killers.

How do you tackle writer’s block?

I don’t worry about writer’s block. When I hit a dry patch in writing Finding Joy, I let the manuscript rest while I went off to do some serious leaf watching. As I freed my mind from the pressure of worrying about not writing, the thoughts started percolating. Sometimes, new ideas sent me off in a different and often better direction.

What are you working on now?

Way back in my mind is the next book, the story of my search for identity and place, and the roles South Africa and the U.S.A. played in instigating that search.

I self-published Finding Joy: One Woman’s Journey Back to Faith, and all that I learned in the process prompted me to write an e-booklet, Ten Hidden Facts About Self-Publishing, which is available from Amazon’s Kindle Store and from Incidentally, anyone who does not have a Kindle can download Amazon’s free Kindle for PC application.

The surge in self-publishing made me aware of the need for experienced proofreaders (of which I am one). So I’ve created a service for writers called “Making Your Submissions Exceptional.” Details can be found at my second website,

Joy's Bio

Joy Wooderson was born and reared in the port city of Durban, South Africa. In 1971 she emigrated to the U.S., settling in Atlanta, Georgia.

Joy is the author of Finding Joy: One Woman’s Journey Back to Faith. She writes creative nonfiction and her essays have been published in The Truth About The Fact: International Journal of Literary Nonfiction, A Cup of Comfort for Christians, Friends: Stories of Friendship, the 2006 Mid Rivers Review, and the Cuivre River Anthology, Volumes II and III. Her articles include “My Favorite Injury,” Travelers’ Tales Solas Awards Elder Travel category winner, 2007.

In 2004, her adventurous spirit drew her to O’Fallon, Missouri, where she enjoys involvement with The Scribes’ Tribe critique group, Saturday Writers, and MWG.

She loves good food but is totally inept in the kitchen. Sports car fanatic (owned five Pontiac Firebirds in varying colors), daydreamer and adventurous world traveler (twenty-five countries to date). No husband, no children, no pets. Housekeeping ability questionable. Maybe this explains the no husband bit?

You can find Joy at and

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

MWG: Pooling Our Resources

With 13 chapters around the state, the Missouri Writers' Guild has remarkable literary talent among its members and our chapters seem to almost constantly be coming up with new contests, workshops or activities.  With so much going on in so many different places, it's tough keeping track of who's doing what when. 

Let's try to change all that. 

Wouldn't it be nice to find out what other chapters are doing that you might learn from?  Or how about getting a speaker from Cape Girardeau that nobody has heard before for a conference in Kansas City?  And wouldn't it be nice to have 30 additional contest entries because your chapter got the word out through MWG?  If you're a writer, you understand the value in networking and we've decided to use this space as an opportunity for our members and others to get to know one another a little better, network, and share announcements of your events, contests, conferences, book signings, speaking engagements, and other activities.  And wouldn't it be nice to have other writers give you applause when you've earned it?  Everyone benefits when we pool our resources!

Mondays will be MEMBER MONDAY when we'll get the opportunity to spotlight a member of MWG.  Nominations for the first MEMBER MONDAY in the spotlight are open now until Friday, so add your suggestion in the comment space at the bottom of this blog.

We'll have guest bloggers from time to time and post other information as we receive it.  To get things started, we have a few items of interest to our writers, but we want to hear from you!  Email your information about events, contests, workshops, or your reason for us to give you applause to Debbie Marshall at

Go to our new MWG Resource Pool to find out what's coming up.  We're looking forward to hearing from you soon with all the information you'd like to share!  We're not leaving anybody out, but you have to send us your information if you want to have it posted.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"The Saturday Evening Post"

Unless I'm a worse judge of people than I believe I am, there are plenty of you who may remember "The Saturday Evening Post" from years gone by.  I remember the magazine was always on the coffee table whenever we visited my grandmother or some of the other relatives we'd visit on Sunday afternoons when I was a kid. 

That was a time when stores weren't open on Sundays and gas was less than 50 cents a gallon, so we'd hop in the car and head out on Sunday afternoons after church to visit with our neighbors, great aunts and uncles and, of course, Grandma and Grandpa.  If we timed it right, there'd be homemade ice cream after a huge dinner we'd share before heading back home again.  But I digress. 

"The Saturday Evening Post" was as much a part of that time as the Norman Rockwell artwork included between its covers.  The magazine's rich history speaks for itself.  It originated  with Benjamin Franklin’s "Pennsylvania Gazette," first published in 1728, going on to become "The Saturday Evening Post" in 1821.  The fact that it has endured for nearly 300 years is nothing short of amazing.  Not that they haven't faced all the same issues with revenue and content as all the rest of the periodicals out there, but they've held true to their publishing heritage and the fact is, they're here to talk about it.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with Stephen George, who's the current editor of the magazine and a very engaging gentleman.  We talked briefly about the magazine and some of the changes they've encountered and others they're considering.  By the way, take a look at their website where you'll find a short story by Ray Bradbury and another by Edna Ferber, in honor of the birthdays of both writers.  And the magazine is encouraging short story writers to submit.  Their submission guidelines are also on the website.

I told Steve I was very excited about having a representative from "The Saturday Evening Post" speak at our conference in April.  He astonished me when he said that as far as he knew, we were the first to invite them to such an event!  Steve has agreed to serve on the magazine panel during the Other Than Books:  Pubishing in Places You Can't Overlook panels on Friday evening and will hear pitches on Saturday.  He'll step out of pitches for an hour to lead a breakout session on the topic of Selling Your Work to The Saturday Evening Post.  Anyone needing query-writing  pointers should plan to attend!

Have a great day!

Friday, August 13, 2010


Ok, so we all know it's hot. 

Tempers are flaring and drivers are out of control.  And the kids are headed back to school, which just adds to the fun. Probably not a good time to ask "Where has the summer gone?" because it's obvious it's still summer!

So, let's think ahead a little---maybe do a little advance planning.  The holidays are over and we've moved well into 2011.  Who says the seasons aren't getting shorter?  Just look.  Two sentences.

Before you know it, it's time for the MWG conference!  I'm not going to say much more because we're getting things set to open Early-Bird Registration on Sunday, August 15th!  Please visit for conference information and to register.  Just go to and click on the Registration form.  You can also register for your hotel room at the Sheraton Westport Plaza Hotel by clicking on the link on the same conference page.  The Sheraton is offering a special price of $89 per night for conference-goers.

And as long as you're thinking early, those who arrive at the conference early on Friday afternoon will get to hear "Funds for Writers'" founder C. Hope Clark give a special Early Arrival Seminar!  Start time is 1 p.m.

Questions?  Email Debbie Marshall at

We can't wait to meet you in St. Louis in April!

Monday, August 9, 2010

A St. Louis Writer's Mecca

When it comes to being a writer in St. Louis, it doesn't get any better than this past Saturday.

I attended a St. Louis Writers Guild workshop presented by attorney Mark Sableman about many of the questions writers have about contracts, copyrights and publishing in this electronic age. Catherine Rankovic gives a great overview of part of this presentation on her blog at By the way, Catherine will be giving pointers for polishing your manuscript and giving it those all-important final revisions in her breakout at the 2011 "Just Write!" Conference.
She will also be doing the pre-conference critiques---up to 25 pages of fiction, non-fiction or poetry. See our conference registration information for how to submit.

Freelance writer and poet Faye Adams, our MWG chapter representative for SLWG (I feel like I'm writing in code), and her husband Bill, were also there. Bill is a small-lot publisher of hard-bound books, including the Missouri State Poetry Society anthology. Poets, they're looking for submissions! Find out more by visiting Faye's website at Faye will be giving writers tips to save $$$ on their taxes in a 2011 conference breakout and Bill will be sitting on a literary panel during the Other than Books: Publishing in Places You Can't Overlook panels on Friday, April 8th at "Just Write!"

St. Louis Writers Guild has had some real literary notables in their ranks throughout their 90-year history and the future promises even more. SLWG is accepting submissions to their St. Louis Reflections anthology until September 4th. More information about the group or the anthology can be found at or visit SLWG on Facebook.

It was a great morning! Then there was the rest of the day.

If you're a writer, you know that getting yourself published is only half the battle. Then there's promotion to deal with. No matter how you look at it, the only way you're successful is to get your book into the hands of readers. Bookstores are happy to host book signings because they're beneficial to everyone involved. I knew there were a few taking place around the city Saturday, but since I was headed to St. Charles anyway, I dropped by Main Street Books in St. Charles to see MWG prez Claire Applewhite promoting her book Crazy for You. It was Claire's third stop in Missouri for the week, having done signings in Union and Springfield as well. See above photo of Claire at Half-Price Books of the Ozarks in Springfield.

But there's another point to be made here. When you support a writer by attending their book signing, you get a real get to meet other writers and that's what happened. It was invigorating to have the opportunity to see a number of people I hadn't seen since the 2010 conference and met some new Facebook writer friends face-to-face! Talk about striking gold!

So, if you have an upcoming literary event---book signing or otherwise---please let us know so we can post it for you, then plan to support our writers by attending their events! See ya!

Countdown to Registration launch for the 2011 "Just Write!" Conference is 6 days.