Accokeek Women’s Writing Group profiled in Southern Maryland Gazette

Cheryl Holloway reads from her new book of short stories, soon to be available! Photo by JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES

Cheryl Holloway reads from her new book of short stories, soon to be available! Photo by JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES

I am so proud that our AWWG was profiled in the Gazette last month!

Clinkscales didn’t capture the diversity of our group — we have poets, playwrights, fiction writers, memoirists, children’s authors and many other genres and interests! — but it’s nice to be noticed….

I love our growing circle of talented and passionate women!

Who here is the least bit surprised?

A male name makes you 8 times more likely to get published, one female author finds.

HommedePlumeSo reads the headline of this article in the UK Independant earlier this month. Author Catherine Nichols received a strikingly positive response to here query letters once she realized what was wrong with her pitch: she was using her own, female, name.

After nearly 50 rejections of her well crafted queries she finally gave it a try: set up a new email under a male name and gave it another go. Almost immediately she received an enthusiastic response, from both male and female literary agents, including several who had previously rejected her book.

In another article about her in the Guardian, she explains:

“Apparently ‘George’ is eight and a half times better than me at writing the same book. Fully a third of the agents who saw his query wanted to see more.”

Read her original essay about this on Jezebel 

More Goodies from Summer Camp

Here are the links

to a variety of treasures shared at Summer camp:

Writers retreat Accokeek 4


Delicious Tea goodies at Jo’s house for Tuesday’s book discussion


Dr. Judith Briles, host of the Monday Author & Publishing teleconference. Free book download, Useful blog, Events & more

Books recommended by AWWG members – a new page we can keep a running list of recs!

Movie: Midnight in Paris 2011, directed by Woody Allen, at his witty best. Cameos by a who’s-who of 1920’s Paris, this charming and silly-sweet film is lovely to look at. Oscar for Best Screenplay.

DocumentProfiling systems to consider using to understand your characters

TJ Ritter’s author web site, including how to get her book, etc.


I don’t have any handouts from Friday, when we did:

  • Tarot for Writers
  • Writing Great Dialog
  • Reading Your Work Aloud

But I have pictures! Go see the entire set at my Flickr AWWG album, and send me more if you have them, from any of our events!


Oh, What a Week it Was!

2015 Summer Camp Report

What an AMAZING week!

While I knew we would have fun and inspire each other, Summer Camp 2015 exceeded my wildest expectations for participation, enthusiasm, creativity and just plain FUN!

Some facts:

  • 5 days
  • 10 events
  • Multiple media & formats including:
    • Teleconference
    • Book discussion
    • Movie Night
    • 3 Workshops
    • Guest author
    • Readings
    • Celebration!
  • 5 Venues
  • 3 Meals


  • Every event was fully attended
  • New events were planned, including:
  • And Monday’s regular meeting was still packed with enthusiastic members! (plus we were visited by a reporter from the Independant)

I am so proud of us!

Accokeek Women’s Writing Group ROCKS!! 



We are either beginning or dead: Wendell Berry on the source of writing

Are you feeling blue because you haven’t “done-it-right enough,” “been published enough,” “written enough?” Next time you sit down to write, read this poem, and begin again!

To Hayden Carruth
by Wendell Berry 

Dear Hayden, when I read your book I was aching
in head, back, heart, and mind, and aching
with your aches added to my own, and yet for joy
I read on without stopping, made eager
by your true mastery, wit, sorrow, and joy,
each made true by the others. My reading done,
I swear I am feeling better. Here in Port Royal
I take off my hat to you up there in Munnsville
in vour great dignity of being necessary. I swear
it appears to me you’re one of the rare fellows
who may finally amount to something. What shall
I say? I greet you at the beginning of a great career?
No. I greet you at the beginning, for we are
either beginning or we are dead. And let us have
no careers, lest one day we be found dead in them.
I greet you at the beginning that you have made
authentically in your art, again and again.
“To Hayden Carruth” by Wendell Berry from New Collected Poems. © Counterpoint Press, 2012.


“I greet you at the beginning, for we are
either beginning or we are dead. And let us have
no careers, lest one day we be found dead in them.
I greet you at the beginning that you have made
authentically in your art, again and again.”

Today, commit to making that authentic beginning, somehow, in your writing. Put down that sack of baggage and regrets and disappointments and fears — if only for 1 hour — that makes you wonder if you even are a writer. (Stop it! YOU ARE A WRITER!) And then write. Let this Monday be a good day!

That process is the authenticity we crave as writers. That is where we live most.

Carol Burbank is a writing and life coach, an editor, and a published writer. You can find out more at, or email her.


SUMMER CAMP 2015 Starts Monday!

giphyThat’s right, campers!! Get your metaphorical hiking boots ready, we’re headed for some summer fun with writing Monday – Friday of next week!

Visit the SUMMER CAMP Page!

for an interactive schedule, including links to RSVP. You MUST RSVP for events in order to get location info, what you need to bring, plus, it helps hosts plan when they know what to expect.

beachbookarchergirlAre you Ready to Have fun??



AWWG Memoir Prompt for August Meeting

Hail writers of memoir, and other fellow seekers!

I didn’t “assign” a writing prompt at our July meeting, but inspired by our intrepid memoirists, I wanted to post a prompt here that could be fun!

Write your 7-sentence autobiography.

And by the way, sentences a paragraph long are considered cheating! Sentences should be reasonably long, like the sentences you would write if you weren’t panicked by the 7-sentence limit.

After all, really long sentences that go on and on are impossible to read, difficult to understand, and full of potential contradictions; because it takes such skill to write them, after all, we end up producing two or three sentences, with subordinate clauses that should be sentences, and then suddenly you’ve written a stealth 225 sentence memoir, and that makes listeners giggle and cringe, even if they’re being polite, which they often are, to your detriment because you never really find out what they really think because they like you.

See you the second Monday in August, 1:15 – 3:30, at the Accokeek Public Library! Any women writers who want to join us are welcome!

And anyone intrigued by the prompt, but not local or not able to attend for any reason, you can simply put their 7-sentence autobiography as a comment, and we’ll all have a great time!

Carol Burbank is a writing coach, editor and author. You can learn more about her at

Email her now to sign up for her summer special, three 30-minute summer breakthrough sessions to help you jumpstart your writing! (Only $120!)

Help for Memoir Writers: Tips on Publishing and Proposals

So you’re writing a memoir! Brava!

It’s cathartic, challenging, satisfying, and powerful. You’re telling the story you always wanted to tell/never thought you could! And when you’re done with your first draft, you look up from your cluttered desk for inspiration, and you’re immediately thinking, “Where I can I publish this?”

become a writer

Take a deep breath and read this roundtable with memoir agents from Writer’s Digest.

Here’s one agent’s take on key questions you need to ask about your memoir:

” 1.    If the reader doesn’t know you, would they care? Why?
2.    Is there a universal story/theme? What is it? (Is it a transformation story? An inspirational tale? A cautionary tale? Coming of age?)
3.    If you summed up your story in one to two sentences, would my response be, “Wow!”?
4.    How truly different is your story—and is it different enough to warrant publishing yet another book on the topic?”

And there’s a lot more good advice in the article about deciding how to edit your work, writing good queries and proposals for agents and publishers, finding a publisher, and creating a publishing platform.

As far as I’m concerned, the first step is editing, editing, editing! You may call your manuscript a “book,” but if you haven’t gone through at least three edits, you’re still working with a brilliantly messy draft! Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Edit, rethink, revise!

As a writing coach and editor, I’m honored to be an honest, compassionate and practical resource for authors who, unlike Virginia Woolf and others married to the perfect editor, need an outside eye on their manuscript. However you get real input into the blessings and challenges your manuscript presents to the reader, get honest input! The people who love us want us to be happy, not necessarily marketable! Ask someone who will tell you the truth — the truth will help you publish…..

So, congratulations — you’ve done the hardest part! Now comes the rest of the labor of love, that is, if you want to share your remarkable story (and all that hard work of creating a book manuscript!) with the world.

Contact me today for a free 30 minute consultation about your memoir manuscript, your writing process, or steps towards publishing!


A Poem from James Tate


James Tate

Why should you believe in magic,
pretend an interest in astrology
or the tarot? Truth is, you are

free, and what might happen to you
today, nobody knows. And your
personality may undergo a radical

transformation in the next half
hour. So it goes. You are consumed
by your faith in justice, your

hope for a better day, the rightness
of fate, the dreams, the lies,
the taunts. —Nobody gets what he

wants. A dark star passes through
you on your way home from
the grocery: never again are you

the same—an experience which is
impossible to forget, impossible
to share. The longing to be pure

is over. You are the stranger
who gets stranger by the hour.

James Tate, poet and distinguished professor at U. Mass Amherst, died yesterday at age 71. 

Incredible new resource for African American History

According to a story in the Guardian published last Saturday, a huge archive of handwritten records about slaves who were newly freed in the 1860s is now coming available. Not only can you access the records for research purposes but you can also volunteer to help digitize them.

Here’s the article:

African American family records from era of slavery to be available free online

“A major project run by several organisations is beginning to digitise the 1.5 million handwritten records from the Freedmen’s Bureau, which feature more than four million names and are held by various federal bodies, for full online access.

All the records are expected to be online by late 2016, to coincide with the opening of the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington.”

And here is a video about the Freedman’s bureau and a link to project, where you can help enter the handwritten records and digitize this incredible archive.

Freedman’s Bureau