Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Featured Blogger - Kate from Sluiter Nation

Today's featured blogger is Kate from Sluiter Nation. She is a woman after my own heart because she's as much of a grammar police as I am.

1. Tell us about yourself: I hate this question. Seriously. I swear this is the reason so many of my past job interviews have gone amok. I just don't know what people want to know. So here I go guessing what you want to know. Well, my name is Katie. Most people call me Kate. I am married to an awesome guy I have known since elementary school. I have an 18 month-old who has my personality and his dad's stunning looks. I teach high school and college. I blog here and there. I tweet a bit. I enjoy Pearl Jam, reading, and running amok.

2.Give us a 30-second elevator pitch about your blog: Since I have three blogs do I get 90 seconds? My "main" blog is Sluiter Nation. Like most people, I started my blog for family and friends not knowing there were many blogs out there. Since this spring, Sluiter Nation has become my "mom blog," I guess. I write about my family, what it is like to be a working mom, and all the stuff in between.
This summer I started Katie's Bookcase as a place to review all the millions of books I read. When it became clear that people wanted more than one post a month (because I can't read much faster than that with all I do), I took on a team of readers and writers. It's a pretty happening place if you're a bookworm. And recently, I started Exploded Moments as a place to do all my "me" writing. It's more my creative outlet. I usually do my Red Dress Club posts there, but sometimes you'll see them on Sluiter Nation.It's where I can try new things (like...gasp...FICTION) that really don't go with the niche I've created on Sluiter Nation.

3. Who is your favorite literary character and why?: Honestly, I have been thinking about this question since the very first time I read a featured blogger here. I have no idea how to pick! My favorite period is the American ex-pats of the 1920's/30's, but most of those characters make me crabby (in a good way, if there is such a thing). I would have to say right now it's a tossup between Owen Meany from A Prayer for Owen Meany and Pi Patel from Life of Pi. I like characters that have to overcome great odds. Who have to prove society wrong. Who stick to their convictions. And I like screwed up stories. So Owen and Pi fit nicely.

4. What kind of tree would you carve your initials on and why?: I don't usually go around carving my initials in things...ok, that is a TOTAL lie. In college I consistently carved my initials (or the words "Pearl Jam") into the trays in the cafeteria. Anyway, if we are talking about a tree, I would probably go all classic with an oak tree. Once carved in it will last the longest there. And I like to think that I leave a lasting impression on people.

5. What animal does your husband look like and why? I don't know about look like, but Cort most resembles a sea horse. The male sea horse is the one that cares for the young while the female goes out of the "home" for provisions. That is the case in our house. I work a TON (too much if you ask some of the ladies who hang 'round these parts) and Cort stays home with Eddie since being laid off over a year ago. This isn't by choice, but it's what our life is right now. And he probably won't admit it, but he is really good at this child-rearing thing.

6. If you could save one post in a fire, what post would it be and why?: The post I would save probably seems randomly chosen at first glance. It is called The One Where I Tell the Truth and it is the first time I told the world of my postpartum depression. And it is the first post where anyone in the bloggy world (that I didn't already know in real life) came and left a comment--actually 25 of them...which was like an explosion to me. Who am I kidding, that kind of turnout is still massive to me). It is the post that I think of as when I *really* started blogging. It is when I found the power of writing. When I realized what kind of outlet this blog thing was and what sort of people are out there--people like me. In fact, I met my blogging bestie--my etwin, Miranda (of Not Super Just Momof ). That post brought me all the way to here...as a featured blogger on The Red Dress Club. Something that I am beyond honored to be.

Free time? What's That?

It's been a busy month.
December promises to be even busier.

So let's have some fun. Let's do some flash fiction this week.

If you're unfamiliar with flash fiction, think of it as a condensed short story. Shorter than short. The word count for flash fiction typically ranges from 100 to 2000 words.

We have two prompts for you to choose from this week...



I truly enjoyed spending time with them. I just had to decide which of them I would kill.

And go!

Be sure to come back on Friday and link up.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Feeling tense?

I was not an English major.

I was not schooled in the intricacies, the nuances, the pluperfects.

As a professional journalist, however, I had to know how to write clean copy. And that meant, among many, many things, using correct tense.

Most of the time, this isn't a problem. There are occasions I get turned and twisted a bit, but for the most part, I get it.

Some of you have expressed interest in learning about tense. I've also noticed, through Red Writing Hood linkups, posts that switch tenses - incorrectly.

It shouldn't be confusing, but the truth is, it definitely can be tricky.

Most fiction is written in the past tense. The key is to pick a tense and stick with it. If you want to try writing in present tense, that's fine, but you must be consistent.

I found this link to explain tense:

How to Choose Your English Tenses.

So, if something happened, and it's done, then it's in the past tense. "I ate all the cookies."

If something is timeless, it's present. "The sun rises every day." Unless you're saying, "The sun rose at 6 this morning."

Did I totally confuse you all?

If you have specific questions, leave it in the comments and we - or other knowledgable readers - can answer.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Weekend linkup

Time to link up your favorite post! Please only one per customer.

Try to visit as many blogs as you can. It's a great way to meet new people and discover some fantastic writing.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Red Writing Hood - Thank you

What are you thankful for? Or for what is your protagonist most grateful?

Link up and let us know!

Thank you

Nichole and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support over the past five months since this little place was launched.

We hoped it would be a place for women with a dream of writing to gather and talk and encourage each other and maybe learn a few things, too.

We have plans to make it even better. And you make all our effort worthwhile. We have been amazed by all the positive comments and interest. It's been wonderful reading all of your work through Red Writing Hood and Weekend Linkup.

We've really, really enjoyed getting to know all of you.

Thank you for bearing with us, especially over the past week or so as Nichole and I hammered away at NaNoWriMo. Your patience is appreciated more than you know.

We hope you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Featured Blogger - Grace from Arms Wide Open

Today's Featured blogger is Grace from Arms Wide Open. Grace writes about appreciating motherhood, especially as a survivor of PPD.

1. Tell us about yourself: I am a 29 year-old wife of 7 years and mommy to a sweet 2 year-old boy. My husband and I have lived in Mexico since 2006 to fulfill a life-long dream of immersing ourselves in another culture and language. I love to write, swim, travel, run and cook. I am somewhat of a self proclaimed sun-worshipper, but always an Oregonian at heart!

2. Give us a 30-second elevator pitch about what your blog is about: My blog is a public journal of my struggles with postpartum depression & my subsequent journey of healing. I write my personal thoughts on marriage, mothering, and the challenges of living thousands of miles from "home." I strive to write with authenticity and truth in the hope that my words will resonate with (mostly) women who thought they were alone in their struggles. On a light-hearted side, I also post gorgeous pictures of Mexico and my adorable son, recipes and beautiful things that I drool over on the internet.

3. What literary character would you be and why?: I would love to be Anne from Anne of Green Gables. She is bold and fiesty and lovely and brave and intelligent and strong. This was my absolute favorite childhood story. I love most that she overcame rejection, fear and insecurity to become successful in life AND love.

4. If you could carve your initials on a tree, what tree would it be and why?: It would be a huge tree on the shore of the Puget Sound in Seattle's Discovery Park where my husband proposed to me 8 years ago. It is a magical, magical place.

5. What animal does your husband look like and why?: Good grief I have sat here for about five minutes racking my brain and cannot come up with a worthy animal. I suppose I will have to settle on a buffalo because he is quite hairy, stocky... and stubborn!

6. If you could only save one post in a fire, which would it be and why?: The first post I thought of would be this one: Thoughts on Bonding. The post represents a huge turning point for me in my postpartum journey, when I truly began to love motherhood (or at least realize I did!) and feel confident in myself as a mother to my son. The memories that inspired this post are unforgettable and still fresh in my mind and heart. (the sweet comments were lost in my switch to Disqus :( ...)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gratitude All Around

Happy Thanksgiving!

As we are all gearing up to count our blessings and celebrate Thanksgiving with those we love, we're certain that this week is crazy for everyone and our "to do" lists are ridiculously long.

We're about to give you something else to be thankful for.

This week's prompt is simply to write a post expressing what you or your protagonist are grateful for this year.

Come and count your blessings with us.

Write up your post and come back on Friday and link up.

We wish you all the happiest of holidays.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Weekend linkup

Time to link up your favorite post! Please, one per customer!

Try to check out as many links as you can. It's a great way to find new blogs and fabulous writers!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Red Writing Hood - Sing it

It's that time again. Time to link up your posts, fiction or non-fiction, inspired by music.

We look forward to seeing what you've come up with and hopefully getting some sneak peeks from those of you NaNo-ing the month away.

Again, we apologize for our lack of coherence during this time.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

14 Things That We've Learned While Doing NaNo

That's right. We're rebels. Also we're tired (see yesterday's post). So we present to you the 14 things we've learned so far this month. Feel free to add any more in the comments.


1) I really miss watching television. There, I said it. Desperate Housewives, The Good Wife, Parenthood, and House all beckon me and my DVR is steadily filling up.

2) I miss my two blogs and my lovely bloggy friends. There hasn't been enough time at the end of the day to make my rounds and I am counting the days until December, hoping that they still remember my name.

3) I can either shower or write 1400 words. Doing my hair and makeup cost me an additional 2000. Can you guess how this month has played out?

4) I miss Twitter. She's a seductress and I love her so.

5) Our mailbox can hold precisely five days worth of mail that I can't make time to retrieve.

6) It is impossible to write with any elegance while doing NaNo. I'm writing at what I have to assume is a fifth-grade reading level.

7) I am more determined and tenacious than I realized and I wouldn't have known that unless I'd taken on this challenge.


1) Those voices that constantly chatter in my head? They actually can be typed right into the computer.

2) I can tell my husband, "No, I'm not BLOGGING again" and not be lying.

3) This fiction thing is fun. Really, really fun. Especially when it doesn't matter if it doesn't make sense and I totally don't have to edit it.

4) I can't help editing some of it.

5) I think about the characters more almost as much as I think about my kids.

6) Excuses for not writing are just that: excuses.

7) Taking a step toward a dream is scary. But not as scary as not trying at all.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Red Writing Hood

Inspiration can come from many, many places as I'm sure you all know.

For this week, we're going to turn to music.

Your assignment: write a piece (fiction or non-fiction) inspired by a song. It can be any song of your choosing. If it is not clear from your story what the song is, throw us a bone and put a note at top or bottom of your post to let us know what you picked.

Rock on! (Or, you know, country up, or reggae, or a lullaby..you get the picture!)

Link up this Friday.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Guest Post - Elizabeth Flora Ross

In today's post, Elizabeth tells us about NaNoWriMo's more serious cousin, WNIN.

The name of the game is WRITE FOOL!

While I am having a great deal of fun flexing my writing muscle and pushing myself out of my comfort zone through the writing memes for The Red Dress Club, the truth is my specialty is nonfiction. It’s what I enjoy, and I believe it is what I do best.

When I started to hear all the buzz about NaNoWriMo and saw how many of my writer friends were participating, I was feeling left out. Then I discovered Write Non Fiction in November (WNFIN) and had a major Ah Ha moment!

The focus of NaNoWriMo is to get down as many words as possible on a “from scratch” novel during the month of November, with a goal of 175 pages or 50,000 words, while resisting the urge to edit. The focus in on output. I believe this is a great way to begin a new writing project. In fact, it is the first step of my own writing process.

The parameters of WNFIN are a little different. WNFIN challenges participants to focus on writing and polishing a piece of nonfiction. It does not specify the piece be new, nor does it focus on word count. The goal is to have something that is complete and ready to submit by month’s end.

This worked perfectly for me, because I was basically at that stage already with my book. I had completed the 10 pre-steps recommended by WNFIN. All I needed was to flesh out my work, adding more depth and editing the overall piece.

I have been incorporating the feedback I received from members of The Red Dress Club through its critique process. That is something I had been eager to do for some time. And let me tell you, that feedback has made my work much better! I love how taking some of the constructive criticism from other talented writers has helped me improve.

So basically what I am doing with WNFIN is using it as motivation to take what I started some time ago and finish it. I have posted an update on my progress so far on my blog today. If you are interested, please stop by and check it out.

And if you are a nonfiction writer, or have always been interested in trying your hand at it, the WNFIN website has been posting fantastic resources all month. Be sure to take some time to browse through the articles.

Happy writing! I can’t wait to see where we all have ended up by the end of this month…

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Weekend linkup

It's time to link up your favorite post. Please only link one - we know it's tough to choose!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Red Writing Hood - Picture it

It's time to link up your posts based on your choice of two photos from Easy Street Prompts. You were to use these pictures as inspiration - they don't have to be literal.

Also, please be sure your email address is easy to find on your blog. We pick our featured blogger randomly from those who link up today, and if we can't contact you, we have to choose someone else.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Featured Blogger - Jackie from With Just a Bit of Magic

Today's featured blogger writes about her insanely busy life at With Just a Bit of Magic.

1. Tell us about yourself: Hello! I'm Jackie and I work full time as a product manager at a small software development company in Michigan. It's a great company to work for and very family oriented. And as most people know I'm also a wife and mom to four great kids; Caitlin (14), Natalie (11), Lauren (8), and Andrew (9 months). And it all keeps me busy! I would love to be a stay at home mom or just work part time, but it's not in the cards right now! I love the time that I'm able to spend with my kids and family and make the most of it.

2. Give us a 30-second elevator pitch about your blog: Life is full of surprises, twists, and turns! You may as well enjoy the ride! I'm a mom to 4 kids, a wife (to my 5th child sometimes), and I work full time and it takes a bit of magic to keep my sanity and things running at my house. You may find things here about family, kids, work, cooking, or just about anything. It's my life.

3. What literary character would you be and why?: The first character that came to mind was Elizabeth Bennett from Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. Now, I'm not sure why she came to mind either. It's one of the books that I really love and have read within the past year and one that I suggest that anyone read if they haven't yet. Elizabeth is a strong and independent woman that many can identify with. One that I can identify with as well.

4. If you carved your initials on a tree, what tree would it be and why?: It would have to be a huge old oak tree with large arching branches that seem to go on forever. The old oak would be the kind you can't reach your arms around, you can build a really cool tree house in, and spend an afternoon lounging underneath it in the shade reading a book.

5. What animal does your husband look like and why?: This is kind of funny! The first thing that came to mind was one of the circus monkey toys with the cymbals that it claps together! And I thought this because of a joke at work when we still worked together. But that's really not him. He's more of the big, warm, cuddly teddy bear. He's always there no matter what with open arms and an open heart.

6. If you could only save one post in a fire, which one would it be and why?: his is a tough one. I like many of them and at the same time there are some that are just crappy. But I selected one that isn't all that old. It's titled 10 Things I Believe.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Red Writing Hood - Promises and Resignation

It's been a while...we think it's time for another photo prompt!

This week, we'll use inspiration photos from Easy Street Prompts, a site that we mentioned in yesterday's post.

We'll do this just like last time we used photo prompts. if you're a fiction writer, use the photo as your inspiration. If you are in the mood for some non-fiction, write a piece based on a life experience that the photo brings to mind.

Here are your two photos to choose from (click on a title to see the photo):



Your post needn't be a literal translation of the photo; you may find that it simply serves as a jumping off point.

Then, come back and link-up on Friday.

Monday, November 8, 2010

We All Have a Bag of Tricks

We all need places where we can go for inspiration, answers, motivation, and insight.
So, I thought I'd show you a handful of my favorite sites and I'm hoping that you'll reciprocate and leave your favorite in the comments.
Ready? Here are mine:
If you're feeling that evil writer's block, stop by and check out:
Interested in checking out a site that fosters a connection between women writers, authors, editors, publishers, and readers? Stop by and visit:
Want a not-so-gentle nudge to get moving? Try:
Looking for a fun writing exercise? Hop over to:
Interested in joining in an amazing writing community? Don't miss:
Want to get inside the head of a former literary agent? Visit:
If you're in need of some grammar refreshers, check out:
Okay, I've shown you mine, now you show me yours!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Weekend linkup

It's the weekend (finally!). Don't forget to turn your clocks back early Sunday morning. An extra hour of sleep, or YAY! Your kids will STILL be up at an ungodly hour on the weekend!

Link up your favorite posts and have fun visiting others - it's a great way to find new blogs!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Red Writing Hood - Dump it

Time to link up so all us Nosy Parkers can see exactly what you - or your character - has in the bag!

One quick reminder: make sure your email address is accesible through your blog. Some of you have been selected as featured bloggers, but when we couldn't find an email, we had to run random.org again and pick a different person.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Read much?

I used to.

Just ask my husband. The bookcase in his office literally overflows onto the floor. Okay, the floor part is because a certain toddler likes to pull them out. But seriously. I love love love books.

And I'm a fast reader. So I devour them like a kid eating candy on Halloween.

But ever since I had children, I stopped reading novels - mostly due to exhaustion and too much Goodnight Moon and, of course, severe lack of "me" time. And now that I have two blogs, there's even less time for myself. Browsing a bookstore without chasing a toddler or helping the older kids select a book is a luxury I don't have.

I last read a book when I flew this August to New York City for BlogHer and had many uninterrupted hours on planes and in airports. My Kindle was my best friend.

The truth about being a good writer is you also have to be a good reader. You have to read a LOT.

So, I wonder - would I be better served spending the hours reading instead?

To many, writing is catharsis. We have to do it, otherwise words would explode in our brain and run out our ears.

And yes, we need writers or else there would be no books, right?

Where is the balance?

I miss losing myself in a book. It's been too long.

Do you read? Do you wish you read more? Do you carve out time for it or just grab a page or two when you can?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

featured Blogger - Stephanie from The Scoop on Poop

Today's guest poster is Stephanie from the often funny, sometimes touching, but always real blog, The Scoop on Poop.

Tell us about yourself: Hi. My name is Stephanie. I’m a stay at home mother to a 10 and 3 yr old. I am a wife, a daughter, a healer, a taxi driver, a coach, a cheerleader, a short order cook in a 24/7/365 kitchen, a maid. I am a loyal friend, a playdate, a teacher, an artist, a daydreamer…of George Clooney, a clean house, well-behaved children, a million dollars, and seeing my name in print on the New York Time bestseller list.

Give us a 30-second elevator pitch about your blog: It’s a daily account of the sometimes ordinary, always dramatic, never dull adventures in my crazy-happy life.

What literary character would you be and why?: This is a hard question from me as I love to read. There are many characters I used to wish to be (or play in a movie as an aspiring actress as a kid), but when it all comes down to it, there is one character I would want to be above all others. Her name is Meggie, and she is the child heroine of Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart. If I were Meggie, I wouldn’t have to dream and wish about being a part of this story or that one. I could just read myself in and out of them---the girlfriend Mark Twain never got around to writing about for Huck Finn, or traveling with a star on a Wrinkle of Time, or surviving a long, cold winter on the prairie with Laura and Mary Ingalls. I would have the ability to write and read in to the stories the bits and pieces that are missing that I always longed for.

If you carved your initials on a tree, what kind of tree would it be and why?: It would most definitely be a weeping willow tree. Every single one of my daydreams has a willow in it, with its long branches reaching out to snuggle you in, providing a place of warmth to feed your imagination underneath. I have escaped to places called Narnia, chased unicorns, and flown in fairy dust underneath the willow tree. I have built sanctuaries, and dreamed of kissing my Prince Charming, all under the boughs of the willow tree.

What animal does your husband look like and why?: When I think of this question, a picture of my husband comes to mind, followed by a picture of Donkey, from Shrek, when he is smiling. My husband has a personality like Donkey too, with his quirky sense of humor, and always positive nature. Like Donkey, he’d give you the shirt of his back, he married a dragon, and he has a huge affection for sweets.

If you could save one post in a fire, which would it be and why?: I’m going to have to go with the cliché’ and say my very first post is the one I would save. It isn’t particularly interesting. It isn’t even particularly good. It is funny, but it’s where I started; the beginning of the wonderful world I found myself in, full of friendly faces, supportive backs, and hearty handshakes.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dump Your Junk

We're borrowing this week's Red Writing Hood prompt from NaNoWriMo Prompts, a blog dedicated solely to National Novel Writing Month.

Here's your prompt:

"Your protagonist empties the contents of his/her pockets, purse, and/or backpack onto a table. What all was dumped onto the table?"

But, we're going to ask for more than a list of contents...this is merely a jumping off point.

While not all of you are taking part in NaNoWriMo this time around, this prompt will work beautifully for fiction and non-fiction. Don't have a character? Empty your own purse and tell us what's in it and why.

And if you are doing NaNoWriMo, be sure to poke around on the blog if you should get blocked...there's some great stuff over there.

Fiction or non-fiction...tell us your story.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Guest Post -- Punctuation and Pumas

Okay, you asked for it, so here it is...the dreaded grammar lesson.

Today, we're bringing you a refresher on comma usage from Katie, a ridiculously busy woman, with a full-time job, a husband and child, and two blogs, Sluiter Nation and Katie's Bookcase (though there might be one other project that you can ask her about).

Katie's background is diverse, including, but not limited to, teaching English and Spanish at the high school level and English Composition at the college level, and freelancing for her local newspaper.

Alright students, today I am here to talk to you about the most exhilarating part of writing: MECHANICS!

::waits for cheers and applause::

::hears crickets::

Wait. What? You are not interested in the mechanics of writing? You would rather sit on a chair of nails while typing than worry about comma placement?

You know what? I sort of feel the same way, but it’s something that can make or break you when you are trying to gain a following and/or the eye of any sort of publishing contact.

One of the best compliments I ever received was from my editor at the newspaper I worked for. She told me she loved having me write pieces because she never had to fix a thing in my articles. Guess what that meant? I was her first choice for most projects. Never a bad thing, people.

So today I will talk to you about quotation marks and about commas.

First are the rules of quotation marks. Most people already know that they go around a line of dialogue, quotes, and various names of short stories, articles, essays and so on.

But what about that pesky punctuation WITH the quotation marks? Here are some simple rules:

1. Periods and commas ALWAYS go INSIDE the quotation marks.

2. Question marks go INSIDE the quotation marks if the question is in the quotation marks.
Example: “Do you know how fast pumas run?”

3. Question marks go OUTSIDE the quotation marks if the question is NOT part of the quotation.
Example: Do you know who wrote “The Gift of the Magi”?

In most writing, those will be the rules you’ll use most. For more rules, you can go here.

Next we have our comma rules. I find people tend to have one of two problems with commas.

They either have comma diarrhea or they are comma constipated.

There are either commas spewing everywhere, or there is a complete absence of commas.

Comma-phile or Comma-phobe.

To avoid this problem, there are four basic rules that can get you through most comma situations. This is what I do to remember them: I like to think of a comma as either a small little cut or slice in the sentence or a little string tying things together.

Let me explain.

When a comma is like a cut:
When it is setting of introductory “stuff”. You could “snip” at the comma and get rid of the introductory part and you STILL HAVE A SENTENCE left over.
EXAMPLE: Before running through the jungle, the pumas packed a healthy lunch to take along.

When you have an interrupting phrase that isn’t absolutely necessary to the meaning of the sentence you can put commas around it to “snip” out and STILL HAVE A SENTENCE left over.
Example: The pumas, who got up quite early, traveled all day to get to the picnic area.

When a comma is like a little tie:

When you have items in a series, a comma ties them together.
Example: The pumas packed sandwiches, fruit salad, and chocolate cake for lunch.

When you have two complete sentences joined by a coordinating conjunction*, put a comma before the conjunction to “tie” the sentences together.
Example: The pumas** were all set for their day trip, but the weather just didn’t cooperate.

Are there any questions?

I am here before and after class to help, or you can always email me at ksluiter(@)hotmail(dot)com for any mechanics or usage questions.

Class dismissed.

*coordinating conjunctions are the short ones. You can remember them by remember the acronym FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).

**I don’t know how this turned into a puma-heavy lesson. I apologize. No pumas were harmed in the creation of this lesson plan.