Thursday, February 22, 2018

Lonely or Lovely?

Most say writing is a lonely endeavor (say that to my cat), but does it have to be? It's true that only your hands can type your story but what about the rest of the process? 

No one is great at everything, even in publishing. 
You might be a master of dialogue but fall a little short on scenery or that quiet writer in the corner of the conference might be a master of characterization. Conceptual edits are my love but the nitty gritty of punctuation are nails on the chalkboard.

How do can we, in the lonely field of writing, weave our strengths with others?

Take Inventory
What are your strengths and weaknesses (be brutally honest)?
If you're not sure what you've conquered and what you've neglected, join a critique group or submit to contests. Listen to the feedback, especially the repetitive suggestions.

Go Fishing
How do we find authors who have mastered your weaknesses?
Join a local writers group, extend your hand to other writers at conferences, join online writers short, reach out. And ask for help. There's no shame in humble requests.

Lonely writing is not. There's a bond that happens between authors as we share the most intimate thoughts with each other. Because of my literary journey, I've secured lifelong friends. Strangers have become family as ideas blossom and prejudices fall away. 

And that, my fellow writers, is how we change the world, a few words at a time.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Strength of the Olive Branch

Choosing the olive branch to surround the words Kind Girls Make Strong Women was deliberate and intentional. Most believe the olive branch to be a symbol of peace, but there is greater depth in the symbol.

Long before modern civilization heralded the olive tree's healing properties and long before the olive branch represented war torn countries the tree became sacred by its own strength. Not only drought resistant and adaptable to even the rockiest soil, a single tree can live for thousands of years through limb cutting or limb transferring. In other words, no matter how destitute its foundation or how many times it's cut, the tree will live on.

Much like truth.
Much like kindness.
And very much like powerful peace.

I've witnessed a growing chasm between civility and tyranny within my own family. To say it's heart breaking would be a massive understatement. Everything I am and everything I try to teach my girls, is to be kind and strong. My little (immediate) family discuss politics, religion and even taboo subjects like mental health. We are far from perfect but I pray that Damon and I have created a safe place to question. The exact opposite of what my extended family has become.

Shouting opinions and brow beating under the guise of "educating" has become the norm. Dismissing the ideas and feelings of others by saying "they're young" or they're ______ (insert any label).

The most terrifying part is this isn't new. Any time there is an "us" and there is a "them" we wade into dangerous waters. I cannot save the world but I can nourish my roots, have them cling to the rocky soil. I can take heart that my children will leave my home and spread their peaceful strength out to the world, transferring their strength to others, like the olive tree.

For those interested in why it's dangerous to draw the line between old/young, Christian/Nonchristian, American/NonAmerican, Republican/Democrat...
Click here, or here, or even here

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

We Need You

Dear Writers,

We, as in Writers of Kern, need you. Change is on the horizon and we'd like your input. Mark your calendars for April 7th and join us for a strategy meeting. We'll discuss WOK's future both in leadership and direction.

For questions or additional information, please click here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Spread the Love

Last year my daughters launched Kind Girls Make Strong Women both on Facebook and Instagram. They sold clothes and charms (without profit) to help spread the message. They appeared on the news both locally and in other hot pockets across the country. Their reach has spread as far as London but here, they've deepened their service. They've appeared and spoken at school districts, cleaned parks and much more.

Once a quarter, they host a donation drive to feed the hungry. 
This Saturday (February 17th, 2018) from 10 am. to 2 p.m. they'll be collecting non perishable food for their Spread the Love Donation Drive. And, like always, they are offering free tacos to boot. They've spent countless hours organizing and marketing this event. If you're able, please stop on by. There will be prizes for donors and local booths from our sponsors.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Query Camp Recap

Fifteen fearless writers signed up for our first webinar of the year but due to a glitch, our recorded video is unavailable. Have no fear, I’ve jotted down the basics.

Query Breakdown:
This is a letter we, as authors, send to an editor or an agent for publication. It absolutely must include the following components.

1. Agent
2. Pitch
3. Bio

Address your query to one agent, not an agency. Do your homework (and show your homework, I’m querying you because…)
Don’t forget to follow that particular agent’s submission guidelines.

It’s a clever summary without the ending—only the tension. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. 
A pitch is like a skirt, long enough to cover the basics but short enough to get attention.

This is not a memoir, this is a bio to show you’re the real deal. Don’t over or undersell your work (or yourself). Remember, this is a job interview. You wouldn’t show up in pajamas nor would you show up in a tux. Be calm, be confident and keep it simple.

Tips: Your writing should stand out, not the actual query. Don’t use atypical font. Stick with 12 point size. Keep it to roughly 250 words total.

If you’re feeling nervous, then you’re doing something right.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Dan McGuire Blog Challenge

Give a shout-out to these ambitious writers. They’ve accepted the Dan McGuire Challenge. 


1. Publish 26 posts on your blog by May 6th (twice a week for 13 weeks if you break it down)
2. Comment or like (on Facebook) at least three other blog posts (see list below)
3. Take a deep breath. You only need to write a few sentences, not a nove

Yours Truly,

Isabella Tagore

***if your blog address is incorrect, please let me know ASAP***

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Last Call for Query Camp

Image result for last call image

Registration ends January 29th (midnight).

Join our Query Camp on January 30th (6 p.m.) from the comfort of your couch. No matter where you are in the publishing journey, we'll help explain, critique and polish your query.

Click here to register.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

You've Got This!

If our blog challenge has you nibbling on your nails and your knees shaking, take heart. It’s not as terrifying or dare I say, challenging, as it seems. 

The beauty of blogging is there are no rules, no word counts (in fact, the shorter, the better) and tons of cheerleaders. 

The idea is to write, regardless of how simple or tedious your day might be, we want to hear it. Each blogger will be “liking” or “commenting” on a fellow bloggers. We’re all in it together.

And get this, you can even blog about not having anything to blog about. Twenty six posts in thirteen weeks, you’ve got this!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Contests & Competitions

Black Lawrence Press
Big Moose Prize

January 31, 2018
Entry Fee: 
Cash Prize: 
E-mail address:

A prize of $1,000, publication by Black Lawrence Press, and 10 author copies is given annually for a novel. The editors will judge. Using the online submission system, submit a manuscript of 90 to 1,000 pages with a $25 entry fee by January 31. All entries are considered for publication. Visit the website for complete guidelines.
Black Lawrence Press, Big Moose Prize, 326 Bigham Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15211. (412) 488-8833. Diane Goettel, Executive Editor.

Red Hen, Women’s Prose
February 28, 2018
Entry Fee: 
Cash Prize: 
E-mail address:

A prize of $1,000 and publication by Red Hen Press is given annually for a book of fiction or nonfiction by a woman. Lidia Yuknavitch will judge. Using the online submission system, submit a story or essay collection, a novel, or a memoir of 45,000 to 80,000 words with a $25 entry fee by February 28. Visit the website for complete guidelines.
Red Hen Press, Women's Prose Prize, 1335 North Lake Avenue #200, Pasadena, CA 91104. (626) 356-4760. Keaton Maddox, Associate Editor.

James Jones Literary Society
First Novel Fellowship
March 15, 2018
Entry Fee: 
Cash Prize: 
E-mail address:

A prize of $10,000 is given annually for a novel-in-progress by a U.S. writer who has not published a novel. A selection from the winning work will be published in Provincetown Arts. Runners-up will each receive $1,000. Submit the first 50 pages of a novel-in-progress and a two-page outline with a $30 entry fee ($33 for electronic submissions) by March 15. Visit the website for complete guidelines.
James Jones Literary Society, First Novel Fellowship, Wilkes University, Creative Writing Program, 84 West South Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766. Bonnie Culver, Program Director.

Sarabande Books
Morton and McCarthy Prizes
March 15, 2018
Entry Fee: 
Cash Prize: 
E-mail address:

Two prizes of $2,000 each and publication by Sarabande Books are given annually for collections of poetry and fiction. For the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry, submit a manuscript of at least 48 pages with a $29 entry fee by March 15. Ocean Vuong will judge. For the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, submit a manuscript of 150 to 250 pages of stories, novellas, or a short novel with a $29 entry fee by March 15. Aimee Bender will judge. Visit the website for complete guidelines.
Sarabande Books, Morton and McCarthy Prizes, 822 East Market Street, Louisville, KY 40206.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Dan McGuire Blog Challenge

Dan took a detour to Smith’s Bakery every time we had a board meeting. He’d show up with Apple Fritters and a joke or two in his pocket. The last time time I went to lunch with him, we joked about how food filled his belly and his blog. 

The Tuesday after he died, I bought an Apple Fritter. I couldn’t eat it and wound up giving it to a mother with a crying toddler. The loss of Dan still catches me off guard but there’s hope in continuing his legacy. 

Dan published his (now defunct) blog, Bako Heat three times a week. There are times I still scroll through his site, mostly to hear his humor. And his voice. He was a man easy to love and hard to forget. 

In his honor, we’re hosting the Dan McGuire Blog Challenge.

From February 5th to May 6th each participant will post 26 articles on his or her blog—and comment on fellow bloggers.

Please join us in our tribute to a great man.

Participants: please email me your blog (I’ll be listing each blog to encourage participation).

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018 Live Webinar Kick off!


Thank you for your wishlist feedback. We’re kicking off 2018 with not just one live webinar, but a series. 
First up, Queries!

Join our Query Camp on January 30th from the comfort of your couch. No matter where you are in the publishing journey, we’ll help explain, critique and polish your query.

Click here to register!