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Day 2 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway: Cindy Hudson

I first met Cindy in early 2006 when she took my class Writing & Publishing Nonfiction Articles (a class I no longer offer). Five years later, she has been repeatedly published, built up a blog and a following, wrote a book proposal, and landed an agent and a book deal. Today Cindy is an author and an internationally known family literacy advocate, who has  recently added a series of Book Club Guides to her growing repertoire of helpful resources. Please help me welcome Cindy!

Cindy Hudson is the author of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs (Seal Press, October 2009). She is the founder of two long-running mother-daughter book clubs, and she lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two daughters. Visit her online at www.MotherDaughterBookClub.com.

Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs has all the advice moms need to start reading groups with their daughters and keep them thriving as the girls grow. Each chapter includes practical ideas from the author, other book-club moms, parenting experts, librarians, and other writers. Book recommendations, recipes and other resources are also included.

Author Q&A:

1. How has writing (either just the act of writing or writing this book or both) impacted your self-confidence?

While writing this book I realized just how much I knew about book clubs and how my experience really could help others. That confidence carried through into my other writing as well. Now I am more likely to see what I have to offer as valuable to the right audience, I just have to do my work to find the right audience for it.

2. What are three words that describe your creative book-writing process?


3. What good has your book created in the world?

More mother-daughter book clubs! Any time moms and daughters are reading together, they are also usually talking about what they read and may discuss things that would otherwise be difficult to bring up on their own. These reading groups create a community of friends who get to know one another better through the years.

• • •

Thanks for participating, Cindy!

Cindy writes nonfiction. She started writing for publication with regional reporting for The Oregonian.

Have you ever written for a local, regional, or state-wide newspaper? If so, what did you like or not like about the experience? If not, would you like to try it? Answer in the comments in 50-200 words (no less and no more to qualify to win today’s book).

(Cindy is allowed to answer too, but not until tomorrow because she can’t win her own book.)

Thanks for participating in the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway! Please spread the word.

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  • Dana Carey May 2, 2011, 8:04 am

    I’ve never written for a newspaper of any kind. I write picture books and I have considered writing nonfiction but haven’t yet. I’ve read in some publisher submisssion guidelines that one needs to be an “expert” and demonstrate experience in the field that qualifies the author as an expert… this can be a little off-putting.
    I have a 14-year old and love this idea of mother-daughter book clubs. I think I can learn a lot from my daughter and other teens. Getting their perspective on books would be so enriching.
    Thanks for the interview!

  • The4simons May 2, 2011, 11:50 am

    I haven’t tried writing for a newspaper, yet, but I would be interested in trying. It’s been a little intimidating, to be honest. I’m a stay at home mom of three kids – how in the world would I get out in the community and look and act professional enough to be a reporter? “Hi, I’m interviewing businessmen about their favorite power lunch places. Here, can you hold the baby while I ask you some questions? You might want the burp cloth in case he spits up all over your suit.” I’m sure I have some misconceptions, but I haven’t cleared those up. 🙂


  • Lara May 2, 2011, 1:44 pm

    Several years ago I pitched an article idea to my local paper about the freebies kids can for good grades on their report cards. The editors loved the idea so much that it ended up as the front page headline and photo. After that the editor asked if she could send me assignments periodically and I agreed. The first one or two were more feature-type pieces, which I could handle. But when she started asking me to do reporting pieces on short notice, I had to call it quits. I wasn’t prepared to do that type of writing and, with young children under foot, didn’t want to have to work under the quick turnaround deadlines involved in being a stringer.

    I still toy around with sending feature pitches to some of the newspapers around here (I’d love to have a byline in the Chicago Tribune one day). Given the right idea, I probably will.

  • C. S. Jewell May 2, 2011, 2:27 pm

    I was the books editor for a local City Paper for a while, and I wrote book reviews and other small pieces for the paper. I think it was great experience for me as a writer–I had write a few book reviews and/or assign them to freelancers each week. The deadlines made procrastination nearly impossible, and the editing experience was good too.

  • Kathleen Whitman Plucker May 2, 2011, 2:57 pm

    For 18 months, I served as a “community columnist” for my local paper (and was even recognized for my work by the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists). My column appeared biweekly. The timing was perfect – I never lacked column ideas, and I didn’t tire of the gig. However, the pay was pretty bad.

  • Tebbertrevalee May 2, 2011, 3:21 pm

    I couldn’t believe it when I read a “Help Wanted” ad in our local newspaper! A want ad for a reporter? I had never had the nerve to apply for a big city newspaper but I hold a degree in Communications, I had a clip file from my college days and this was the little weekly paper from the rural county where we live. The editor didn’t need my degree. All he asked was that I write a story. The job of staff writer was mine after the first submission. Iwas responsible for 4,000 to 6,000 words a week, often the entire contents of the newspaper less the high school sports.

    Those were very happy days. I had the freedom to deal with parenting the way I wanted to. Not that the hours were few, they were just flexible. What I loved: Writing and publishing a column every week, learning to use photographs to illustrate the news and having an excuse to ask nearly any question to anyone on any subject. What I hated: Attending local government meetings, being disliked for having to report uncomfortable or controversial news and deadlines.

  • Diane J. May 2, 2011, 3:26 pm

    I am a guest columnist with a local paper. It’s non-paying, but I’m enjoying learning the style. Shorter paragraphs and a tight word count, that can’t be much under and not a word over, keep me on my toes and force me to be creative.

    What I don’t like? The pay 🙂 But for the experience it’s giving me, I’m not complaining. They took a chance on me and I’m thankful.

  • Pattie May 2, 2011, 4:45 pm

    I have not written for any newspapers myself, but during my time teaching in Mansfield, Arkansas, I learned how to paste-up a page (with actual paste on an actual newspaper-sized page, I might add!). I then taught my high school journalism students how to do this as well as take photos and write up small articles about our school district. For two years, we had our school page in the Citizen each week. Sometimes it was fun, in that my students got to take photos and talk to younger children about their experiences in whatever activity or project we were reporting. Sometimes it was frustrating, when we had misspellings or misinformation printed in spite of checking everything over three and four times. But it was always rewarding seeing our hard work in newsprint each week!

  • Cara Holman May 2, 2011, 5:13 pm

    I have! Every September since 2008, I’ve had the opportunity to write a brief article about my experiences being a breast cancer survivor for the Oregonian, in conjunction with the Komen Race for the Cure. For the longer “My Turn” article, I worked with an editor to refine the piece, and that was an extremely helpful exercise for me. Journalistic writing is a bit different than what I am used to, so it was fun to try something new. But best of all, two new women joined my cancer survivors’ writing group, as a result of reading my article about it in the Oregonian.

  • Judy May 2, 2011, 5:58 pm

    Christina and Cindy: In the spirit of full disclosure, go ahead and take me out of the drawing for Cindy’s book. I already have a copy of Book by Book and it is WONDERFUL! I have not written for any newspaper, other than to submit announcements about my kids’ arrivals home and several press releases about upcoming anthologies. But, it would be fun to try.

  • Carol J. Alexander May 2, 2011, 6:24 pm

    I currently have a column in our local, weekly paper. It focuses on ways to save money—either as a lifestyle choice or in an emergency situation. I’ve written on everything from haircuts for less to how to get four meals out of one chicken to living without paper products. I enjoy writing this column and never run out of things to write about because I live what I’m sharing. Of course, I also enjoy it when someone in town, at the library, McDonald’s, or the grocery, comes up to me and tells me how much they enjoy reading what I write. (We live in a very small town.) The only thing I don’t like about writing this column is the low pay. But I just look at it as a notch in my resume belt.

  • Susan VB May 2, 2011, 7:07 pm

    I have not published any articles for newspapers, although I did submit an article that I wrote for regional parenting magazines to a local paper last year. I have a friend who regularly writes for the paper and she passed the article along to the right editor, but they had recently done a similar article, so it was a no go. I would like to write for newspapers but I feel less confident in the proper procedure, since there are no writers’ guidelines, etc., for the papers in my area, and there is quite a budget crunch at my local paper that I feel like they already don’t have enough work to dole out to their staff. But these kind of sound like excuses, don’t they?

  • Beth K. Vogt May 2, 2011, 7:49 pm

    I’ve been published in both a local and national newspapers. The thing I loved the most? Deadlines! If you want to learn how to write fast and tight, work within a newspaper’s deadline.
    And I’ve also read Cindy’s marvelous book. Thanks to her insights, I started a mother/daughter book club. We’ve been going strong for a year now!

  • Nancy May 2, 2011, 8:01 pm

    Yes, I have and I still do write monthly columns for two regional papers. For one, I also write news stories. I have loved the experience because of what it has taught me about editing my own work. I’m able to write more concise sentences now because of my newspaper writing.

    I also take photographs for one of the papers. Since I decided to stay home with kids and work a little bit as a freelance writer, I have learned so much.

  • Emily Chadwick May 2, 2011, 8:15 pm

    I have done freelance writing for a very small local newspaper for several years. I was able to leverage this experience when I pitched a monthly column idea to a larger, regional newspaper – the column idea, incidentally, grew out of the personal blog I began shortly after the first time I heard Christina speak about platform development and self promotion. I have now been writing that column for nearly a year and a half. I occasionally still do some general reporting and feature writing for that original local paper, but I have had to scale back due to some other projects, like developing a regional writing festival for example, that have required more energy. I generally enjoy the newspaper work that I do, especially writing my column. It allows me to connect with my community and provides me with readers who occasionally approach me on the street or at the market to talk about something I’ve written- this is a source of encouragement that gives me strength and confidence to think towards that next step and a perhaps the paper’s readership, 16,000 strong, can be leveraged as I pitch the next project in my career.

  • Lite1houz Patricia May 2, 2011, 8:23 pm

    No, but I would welcome the experience, but is it a dying world, newspaper?
    I always thought it would be great to write a helpful column, or an encouragement column for a weekly paper, something that would be UseFull not just UseLess information. Something not in the fore front of news, but just clever on/in the mid section. A little tid bit that would make someone smile in spite of the NEWS in the paper.

  • Renee May 2, 2011, 9:44 pm

    One of my first big freelancing gigs was writing for the largest metro newspaper in our state. It was a wonderful experience and taught me the importance of working fast and furiously under tight deadlines and always keeping a rolodex of helpful sources at my fingertips. In fact, I still write for this newspaper, but in the past few years they have laid off so many of their full-time staff members that the pay rate for freelancers also plummeted. Because of this, I spend more time querying local and regional magazines with a majority of my ideas because they pay so much better.

  • Viki May 2, 2011, 11:02 pm

    The publisher of “Windy City Times”, Chicago’s largest gay newspaper, asked me to write a guest column, recounting my experience as a fundraiser in the AIDS community. It was difficult work – emotionally draining at times – but rewarding, too. The feedback I’ve received has been overwhelming, from friends who were there and remembered what I went through, as well as those who had no clue about my Life Before Husband and Child. It’s certainly given me some confidence (along with finishing Christina’s “Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff” course) to submit more articles to a variety of publications.

  • Mar May 3, 2011, 12:49 am

    I’ve written for both local and regional newspapers. We call it “feeding the machine.” There’s not much to like or dislike about it – it’s just another vehicle for getting published. The good news is that there are tremendous opportunities for freelance writers because just about every newspaper has had their editorial and writing staff slashed. The bad news is that it’s difficult to make a living writing for newspapers unless you’re placing stories for a client. Sadly, just this week Journalism topped the list as the degree presenting the least opportunity for new college grads.

  • Krissi Wyss May 3, 2011, 2:16 am

    I have not done so, but I think I would enjoy writing for a newspaper. I have so many irons in the fire that I haven’t given the idea serious thought or effort. It’s time for me to make a list of priorities for my writing and considering pitching to newspapers. My writing now consists of a newsletter and very new blog.

  • Anonymous May 3, 2011, 4:07 am

    I did have an op-ed published in the Oregonian a while ago. I’ve queried them a couple of times with other types of pieces but haven’t gotten in yet. It’s hard to figure out which sections/topics they already have somebody working on and which might be open to freelancers. They have told me to keep trying, though, which is encouraging. 🙂

  • Bethany Dykman May 3, 2011, 4:39 am

    I’ve never written for a newspaper and don’t really think I’d do well with the short deadlines. For now, writing for magazines is perfect for me because I can pace myself and work at the very slow rate I need to while also raising, feeding and teaching 4 kids in some semblance of order and cleanliness.

  • Jjewelsea May 3, 2011, 5:25 am

    Have I ever written for a local newspaper? Well, that would be yes, I have. It was the paper for the community in which I grew up and I was very pleased to have an article of mine accepted and paid for! Having (at that time) recently moved away from my hometown, I wrote a piece about what it was like coming back. Hmmm. Makes me think I ought to be thinking about pieces for the paper of my current community!

  • Gen X Mom May 3, 2011, 11:28 am

    Yes, I do write for my local newspaper. I love the experience it has given me about deadlines, keeping writing tight, interviewing, and more. I do enjoy it and would love to make more out of it. Currently I write stories about my local town. I enjoy working closely with the editor. It has definitely been a learning experience.

  • Anonymous May 3, 2011, 5:06 pm

    As of midnight, May 2, 2011, this thread is closed. Why not comment on the latest book giveaway instead?

  • Cindy Hudson May 3, 2011, 11:41 pm

    How rewarding it must feel to see the results of your words Cara.

  • Cindy Hudson May 3, 2011, 11:42 pm

    Thanks for shout out Judy.

  • Cindy Hudson May 3, 2011, 11:43 pm

    Sounds like an interesting column Carol., especially for these times.

  • Cindy Hudson May 3, 2011, 11:45 pm

    Great to hear about your new mother-daughter book club Beth, and I’m especially glad I could help. If you get a chance, drop me a line at info@motherdaughterbookclub(dot)com and let me know about some of your favorite activities this year.

  • Cindy Hudson May 3, 2011, 11:47 pm

    As you’ve probably found out Nancy, taking photos to go with articles can be a good way to increase your income from a piece too, as newspapers often pay for those as well.

  • Cindy Hudson May 3, 2011, 11:49 pm

    Sounds like you really get to stay connected to your community through your writing Emily. And congrats on putting on your writing festival last weekend. I know that must be tons of work.

  • Cindy Hudson May 3, 2011, 11:51 pm

    I’m sure the newspaper experience has helped you get other writing assignments. And it’s always nice when you can ramp the pay up.

  • Cindy Hudson May 3, 2011, 11:56 pm

    Thanks for the link Kim. I hope you enjoy reading the book, too. Interesting to see that conducting the interviews was one of your favorite things. I like them too, but I think I need practice on how to do them efficiently.

  • Cindy Hudson May 3, 2011, 11:58 pm

    I’m a community columnist as well Kathleen. I really enjoy having an excuse to ask people about what’s going on in my area, but you’re right about the pay.

  • Anonymous May 4, 2011, 12:29 am

    And now it’s back open because we have announced a winner. Congrats, Mar!

  • Anonymous May 4, 2011, 10:41 pm

    Actually, dislike. But like that you are here, Mar. 😉