Archive for October, 2013

Workshop Description:

The Write Stuff:
A Children’s Picture Book Workshop

 Cassandra Black Signing

Do you have the right stuff to write children’s books? Have you written a story you’d like to see published? Or are you at the beginning stages of an idea? Need ideas on how to market?

Join Cassandra Black, author and publisher of chapter book Twinkle The Only Firefly Who Couldn’t Light Up,third edition, Fun Jokes For Young Folks, and picture book When I Wish Upon for our next meeting where we will explore who you are as a children’s author, why you’re writing children’s books, knowing your target audience and how to market your book in this fun, interactive and informative workshop.

Cassandra Black

Author Cassandra Black


Speaker’s Bio:
Cassandra Black resides in Los Angeles, California where she was born and raised. Cassandra has worked with children ages 5 to 17 for many years in the non-profit sector and loves writing stories for them that reflect their real-life situations. Black began her writing career at age 12 when she wrote stories and articles for a kids’ magazine called “Young People Today.” She was the first writer/reporter for the magazine to score a celebrity interview with then hot television star Todd Bridges from the hit television show, “Different Strokes.” Ever since, Cassandra has enjoyed the creative process of writing and the power that words can have. Along with creativity, she holds an Associates Degree in Cinema, a Bachelor’s in Marketing and a Masters in Business Management. Cassandra’s dream is to see Twinkle go world- wide and be made into an animated movie in all languages so that children around the world can enjoy, learn and grow from this story.

Workshop Summary:

Cassandra Black came more than prepared for the workshop. She even brought her own table cloth and posters, as well as giveaways in the form of bookmarks and cute pencils. She explained that her many book signings had taught her to always be ready for author event emergency. The workshop hadn’t even started, and we were learning already.

preparedCassandra’s Set Up

After introducing herself and telling us her about her journey to publication, Cassandra began the workshop by asking us to reflect on some important questions. She explained that in order for us to write the right stories, we must know the answers to these questions by heart.

Why are you writing? Is it a hobby or a future career?

Who are you?

v  What are your personal experiences?

v  What expertise do you bring to your subject?

v  What are you passionate about?

v  What is your writing style?

v  What is your ultimate goal or dream?

What is your genre?

Who is your audience?

v  Who are you writing for?

  • You?
  • Your kids?
  •  Your students?
  • The world?

v  What is your demographic?

  • Age
  • Location
  • Home life
  • Challenges
  • Appearance

cassandra black

Why your book?

v  What sets you apart from other  authors?

v  What sets your story apart from the others?

Why this story?

v  What is your message?

v  What do you want the reader to get from it?

v  Why should we buy your book?

Cassandra Black lecture


Author Cassandra Black and CBW-LA

Cassandra encouraged us to really reflect on our answers and to write them down as these are questions that we would be asked over and over again during our careers as writers.

The discussion on audience, genre, and story was punctuated by several creative writing exercises, which Cassandra created. The exercises were designed to help anyone out of a writing slump, and to get a writer’s creative juices flowing.

The first exercise was a madlib game. Each group was broken up into smaller teams, assigned a story to complete. The resulting stories were hilarious and over the top, and definitely helped break the ice.

madlibsCBW-LA Attendees playing madlib

The second exercise was equally fun. In our workshop packets, Cassandra had placed a list of random words. The challenge was to use all these words in the order they appeared, to create our own stories. She gave us time to come up with our own tales and had us all share our work. We all came up with completely different stories, no matter how many common words we shared. Cassandra said that this was proof that only we could write the stories we were meant to write.

Having experienced both traditional publishing and self-publishing, Cassandra also shared the pros and cons for each. She answered everyone’s questions patiently and gave some tips on how to find the right illustrator, if we wanted to self-publish.

For the final part of the workshop, Cassandra asked the attendees to pair up for a mock interview. In each workshop packet, Cassandra had placed a list of questions which often come up whenever an author is interviewed.  We discovered many talented authors that evening, as each attendee took turns being both radio show host and author interviewee.


CBW-LA Attendees Interviewing Each Other


As usual, each attendee got a copy of the author’s workshop as part of their fee. To end the workshop, everyone lined up to get their books signed by Cassandra.

Cassandra Black Signing

Cassandra was a wonderful speaker, engaging and lively and everyone went home feeling inspired that evening.




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Spotlight Week Giveaway Winner

Last month for my Spotlight Week, I reviewed UNDER the NEVER SKY and featured an interview with Author VERONICA ROSSI.

To cap it all off, I held a giveaway for a SIGNED copy of UNDER THE NEVER SKY.

under the never sky


And now it’s time to announce the winner of the giveaway.

Congratulations, M.J. Fifield!

I’ll be emailing you in a bit to tell about how to claim your very cool prize.

As for the rest of you wonderful people, I hope you have the happiest of weekends!

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Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome speculative fiction author Milo James Flower. He’s the author of many short stories, as well as the novel Immaterial Evidence.


You can find him blogging at In Medias Res.

Welcome Milo!


Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?



 Milo James Fowler


I’m a junior high English teacher by day and a speculative fictioneer by night. I’ve been writing since I was 12 years old and submitting my work for publication since 2009. I enjoy reading science fiction, horror, and weird tales that fall somewhere in between, and that’s pretty much what I write. When I’m not grading papers or writing/revising, I like to mountain bike, surf, and play guitar.

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I have a desk, but I do most of my writing on the ol’ laptop. It’s portable, so I can write anywhere I please.

WriterWorkspace3 modified

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

Office Depot, I think. It was one of those do-it-yourself kits with the wordless instructions. I’ve always been good with Lego sets, so I did all right. As far as arrangement, I’m kind of spartan. The fewer distractions, the better.


3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

My wife’s Snoopy calendar has been a great addition. I like how he’s up there on his doghouse with his typewriter. (Maybe I should try taking my laptop to the roof…) Having a shelf nearby with some of my stories in print tends to keep me motivated.


4.  What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

As long as I’m getting words onto the screen, I’m good. But I do like that framed picture over my desk. I picked it up in Beijing from a student artist, and I like to stare at it every now and then. When my mind goes blank, sometimes a good idea will show up out of nowhere.

WriterWorkspace1 modified


5. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

Vanilla chai tea – so good.

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and China Mieville are my top three, but Franklin W. Dixon (or whoever that was at the time) inspired me to write. At 12 years old, I lost interest in theHardy Boys and decided to write my own novels instead. I’ve been entertaining myself ever since.


2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

That depends. During the school year, I’m lucky to get in an hour or two in the evenings, and 1,000 words is my daily goal. During the summer, I’m free to devote hours to my current WIP. One way I keep myself writing is by leaving scenes where I’ll want to pick them up again – like cliffhangers in those old serials.


3.  Do you write everyday?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

1K/day is my goal, however long it takes. Usually, it’s an hour or two. The Internet is a big distraction; I do best when I shut off the WiFi.

4. Why do you write?

I have stories to tell, and I want to share them with others. I have characters I know readers will enjoy. And I thoroughly enjoy the creative process.


5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

My favorite writing quote comes from an anonymous source: “The worst stuff you write is always better than the best stuff you don’t.” As a recovering perfectionist, I have to remind myself to just let the first drafts flow out of me. They can be messy. I’ll clean them up later.

My second-favorite is from Galaxy Quest: “Never give up. Never surrender!” With rejections on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis and social networking that seems to lead nowhere at times, I have to keep my goals in sight: 100 short stories published and a book deal by the time I’m 40. With three years to go, I’m well on my way.




Bio:  Milo James Fowler is a teacher by day and a speculative fictioneer by night. His work has appeared in more than 60 publications, including AE Science FictionCosmos, and Shimmer. A San Diego native, Milo currently resides on the Pacific coast with his beloved wife, and when he’s not grading papers, he’s imagining what the world might be like in a few dozen alternate realities. Stop by anytime: And be sure to check out Milo’s Amazon author page:

Milo James Fowler
Website   Facebook
Amazon   Twitter




Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life, Milo!

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.



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