Sunday, November 29, 2009

Write On For Literacy's Ninth Annual Holiday Book Drive to benefit children in need!

Last year we collected hundreds of books that were distributed to various schools and charities including the Boys & Girls Club, Casa Pacifica, and Project Understanding. Please do your part to help kids have a better holiday season. Give the gift that lasts forever: the gift of reading!

Want to get involved?

  • You can mail book donations to the Write On! chapter headquarters: 400 Roosevelt Court, Ventura, CA, 93003

  • You can also mail monetary donations that will be used to purchase books to the above address. (Checks made out to Dallas Woodburn.)

  • You can start a chapter in your area! Donate books to a local charity -- Boys & Girls Clubs are usually very grateful for donations -- and then e-mail me the total number of books donated which will then be added to our grand-total.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Drowning in Excess

My article "Waterlogged, Yet Still Drinking" is the featured "Starting Over" piece at NewsSip this week! Here is a snippet:

On my bookshelf sit thirteen paperback books I want to read. I know that with schoolwork and clubs and other commitments, I will be lucky to get through two of them by the end of the semester. And yet, there they sit. Waiting. I will lug them home with me, and when school starts again in the fall I know I will lug them — plus half-a-dozen new “must reads” I’ll pick up while browsing Barnes and Noble — back with me. Why? Because I need choices. If I didn’t have my thirteen books what would I use to fill their spaces?

In today’s world, everyone has their own personal library: laptop, printer, scanner, Internet access. There are dozens of other “essential” gadgets, as well: stereo systems, video games, home gyms, televisions, personal DVD players. And it isn’t enough anymore just to own these essential technological gadgets. There are always newer models, better versions, more expensive brands to upgrade to.

Drowning in excess makes it nearly impossible to fully enjoy the present moment. We can’t wait till we can afford a bigger house, or a newer car, or the latest gaming system. I can’t wait to finish the first of my thirteen books so I can move on to the next one. But why? Why can’t we just be content with what we have? Why are we always in such a rush, pushing forward, straining for the future?

Read the rest at

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Waiting Game

Dear Dallas: I sent in a story to a publisher two weeks ago, and I still haven't heard back! I'm on the edge of my seat after sending my "baby" out into the world. What's up?

I know two weeks feels like a long time to wait for comments from a publisher or editor! And I understand from personal experience how nerve-wracking it can be to send your writing out into the world, especially a piece you have spent a long time writing and editing!

Unfortunately, though, waiting is a part of the writing business. When you send a story or poem or book off to a publishing company or literary magazine, it is not unusual to have to wait four, five, six, even eight months for a response.

The simple answer is that editors are BUSY! They receive many, many submissions every week and try to give every piece they are sent the time and attention it deserves. As you can imagine, you're not alone -- everyone has to wait a bit for comments! So you're in good company!

My best advice to take the edge off the waiting game is to work on a new piece of writing. Hopefully you'll get so engrossed in a new story that you'll forget to agonize over the story you just sent out -- and, by the time you hear back from the publication you sent your first story to, you'll have another story ready to go!

Best of luck! Keep sending your work out and believe in yourself! Never give up!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Calling All Teen Girl Memoir Writers for New Book Series

The Louder Than Words series is currently reviewing submissions from teen writers who are interested in writing a memoir. The editors are looking to connect with teen girls ages 13-19 who:
  • are passionate about writing
  • have an important real-life story to tell
  • love to journal, blog, or write poetry
  • dream of being a publishing author
If this describes you, you can apply to be a Louder Than Words author by
emailing editor Deborah Reber ( with the following information:
  1. Your name, age, and email address
  2. A detailed description of the real-life story you’d like to share. Please give a sense of the overall theme of the story and details regarding the personal journey you want to share with the world. Put yourself in the readers’ shoes—what would they take away from your story? Write as much about your story as you like.
  3. Two writing samples that demonstrate your style, tone, and writing ability. You can submit nonfiction essays, journal entries, blog entries, or fiction pieces, but please, no poetry unless you can imagine writing a whole book in verse. Try to choose pieces that represent the style of writing you would use in your book, and send your best stuff!
  4. A few sentences describing the role writing plays in your life and why you want to be a Louder Than Words author.
All submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and the editor will be in touch to request a more detailed outline and additional information if your submission is being strongly considered.

More information can be found at

Monday, November 9, 2009

Interview with Tainted Tea Literary Magazine Editors Shane Toogood & Kris Fossett

Shane Toogood and Kris Fossett met while getting their Associates Degree in Communication Arts, Journalism at Delaware County Community College. They have now started a literary journal, Tainted Tea: Read on for their insights on writing, editing, publishing, and everything in between!

Congrats on the first issue of Tainted Tea! Why did you decide to start this lit mag? And what was the process like? Any surprises/unknown difficulties?

Shane: Thanks so much, Dallas. And thanks for interviewing us. It’s been a long seven months. Tainted Tea started because Kris and I kept saying that we needed to do something to fuel the flames of our imaginations. Although we continue to write, we both have jobs that are completely out of the writing and publishing field. She’s a lifeguard and I answer phones for funeral homes.

One day, as I was dropping Kris off at home, the two of us wanted so badly to tell the other that we wanted to start a lit magazine. Seriously, we sat in front of her house in my frigid car whose bi-polar heat decided not to work that March evening. Finally, Kris broke the silence and asked me. I screamed “I was gonna ask you the same thing!” I kicked her out of the car and as I drove home the name “Tainted Tea” dropped into my head. We loved it. It’s seductive, alluring and great alliteration.

We did some PR and Kris made the beautiful, interactive blog. All that was missing was the submissions. Once they started coming in things really picked up.

Kris: Before our first submission in late July, we didn't know what to do without content to work with. But once we received M.C. Brody's story, which is published in the first issue, we really started working, having meetings every week that lasted for six/seven/eight hours.

Once we received submissions, the magazine was no longer just something for Shane and I to do as we worked our terrible jobs. It's about the writers. We both know how difficult writing is, and we know how much courage it takes to send work out to publications. We couldn't let these writers down. If anything, we had to continue to work on the magazine for them.

Shane: As for the biggest difficulty…we had an artist verbally agree to have his work in Tainted Tea. We dropped his art in the layout and Kris tried to get a hold of him to sign the contract. When she finally met with him he lashed out…I won’t go into too much detail, but we were just about ready to go to press, and we had to pull his paintings and rearrange the whole mid-section of the magazine. We wound up making deadline fine.

What was your favorite thing about starting Tainted Tea?

Shane: Hmm… morphing dreams into reality. As I gain experience for my goal of becoming a book publisher, we’re helping make our fellow writers’ dreams come true. We love reading the enthusiastic responses when an author is being featured in the magazine. I mean, when we first started the zine, Kris and I thought we would cater to young authors, but we realized that there are just as many young authors not being published as there are the young at heart. It makes me happy knowing that another writer is happy. Too sappy?

Kris: I love everything about Tainted Tea: the writing, the editing, the layout, even the PR, which I thought I would hate due to a nightmare internship at a design firm. Shane and I spent hours commenting and editing one submission, and when the writer sent it back to us, she listened to us, and her story improved by a thousand-fold. It ended up being the best story we published.

Like Shane said, I lifeguard to support myself, and if I didn't have Tainted Tea, I would feel like my talents are going to complete waste, and I would have jumped off a cliff awhile ago. Being an editor of Tainted Tea isn't a job for me; it's something that I enjoy doing. It's my passion.

Read the rest of the interview at

Monday, November 2, 2009

Overcoming Rejection

Dear Dallas, How do you deal with rejection? It can be very discouraging.

Rejection is something that all writers share. I could wallpaper all four of my bedroom walls with all the rejection letters I have received from editors! The important thing is not to take it personally. For whatever reason, you or your writing just wasn’t a right fit for that publication at this specific time. That doesn’t mean that they won’t love the next piece you send to them! When I get a rejection letter, I first read the comments to see if there is any advice I can glean or ways I can improve for next time. Then, I submit my story or essay or article somewhere else. It took me more than a year to find my literary agent. A year of rejection, rejection, rejection – until finally, I found my perfect match. My agent understands my writing and has faith in my career. I just had to have the patience and perseverance to find her! Instead of focusing on all the possible rejection the future holds, I like to imagine that I am holding a puzzle piece, and I am just searching for the editor or reader who is a good fit for me -- who holds the interlocking puzzle piece that fits with mine.

My best advice to you is to read and write as much as you can, and to enjoy the process. What type of writing do you like to do? What draws you in? Write that! Whether it's poetry, comic books, love stories, fantasy, realistic stories based on your daily life ... or a mixture of all of the above! Write what you enjoy writing and what you would enjoy reading. I think the most important thing about being a writer is pleasing yourself and finding your own fulfillment through what you write.

Never, ever give up!