Monday, June 26, 2017

The IWSG - One of the 101 Best Websites!

This post marks a major milestone for this site – the Insecure Writer’s Support Group made the Writer’s Digest 19th Annual 101 Best Websites for Writers!
This site was created to be a major source of information and support for writers everywhere. To make the list confirms that the efforts of those behind the scene who have worked so hard to make this site and the whole IWSG group and experience as awesome as possible.

Special thanks to all of you, the writers and authors who have supported the group and this site over the years. You are the reason for this site. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Submissions are open for The IWSG Guide to Writing for Profit. What are we looking for? Anything writing related – books, journalism, articles, whatever. What have you tried that was successful? What have you tried that didn’t result in sales or making money? We need to know what doesn’t work as well! Submissions are open to all IWSG members – monthly blog post members, Facebook, and Goodreads. Details here.

Thanks again for your continued support. We’ll see you July 5 for the next posting of the IWSG blog group.

Monday, June 19, 2017

10 Ways to Maintain Writing Momentum

The big question many writers ask is, how can I keep going when I struggle to find the time to write, when I can’t get published fast enough, when I aren’t getting the sales I expected, when the idea of finding success in my writing career seems out of reach or overwhelming? The simple answer is momentum.

Momentum is the strength or force gained by motion or a series of events. In the case of writing, the more we sit and focus on what we need to do, the easier it becomes. And it’s not just the ease we gain through the act of writing, but also the love of it.

By writing, we remember how much we love it.

The moment we pause, take an extended break, allow other factors to gain priority, the easier it becomes to set our writing aside, the quicker the excuses come back, the harder it is to return. When we continue to write, the momentum keeps us confident. It also keeps the flames of our dreams fanned. Hope continues to burn within us and the thoughts of finishing that manuscript, or marketing that book, become less overwhelming.

So how do we maintain momentum in our writing?

1. We make the time to write or market. For some writers that means scheduling the time, sacrificing television, getting up an hour earlier than the rest of the family. When someone says, “I don’t have time to write,” it’s more often than not an excuse. It’s allowing other life distractions to take priority. Of course, there will always be times you won’t be able to write due to sickness, injury, commitments to others, but even then, turning your thoughts and focus, even briefly, toward your writing can help maintain the momentum. Keep in mind, though, that thinking about writing will never be as effective as simply sitting down to write. If you are crazy busy, then find ways around it. Write down those ideas that pop into your head while standing in a queue. Snatch a minute or two to develop a character further. Use your waiting room time to look up possible images of your characters, or do some quick research related to your writing.

2. Protect that writing time. Train your family and friends and yourself that this particular time you’ve set aside is your time to write. Don’t let anything infringe on it, baring of course, an emergency.

3. Don’t think of writing as “just a hobby,” even if it is. Writing is precious to you. It matters. If you are like me, then it keeps you sane. Therefore give it a measure of priority, and always remember its worth.

4. Know exactly what you want from your writing. This will give you an indication of how much time you’ll need. Work out precise, measurable goals. Go beyond the vague pseudo-goal of, “I want to write a book.” What kind of book do you want to write? How long do you want to take writing it? Do you also want a career of writing? What does that look like? What does success mean to you? The answers will be different for everyone.

5. Be cautious of taking a break from writing. Even a little break can be harmful to the momentum you’ve built. If you take a break, any kind of break, even one as brief as checking Twitter, then it’s so much harder to get back into writing.

6. Find a writing space. Ideally it should be a space you use only for writing. When you sit there, it’s a signal for your brain to turn toward writing.

7. Avoid the blank page. The blank page can mock us. I can easily spend an hour staring at it. To fix this problem, some writers, when they finish for the day, will write the first couple of sentences of the next chapter or onto the next page. This maintains momentum because it helps kick off the next day’s writing session.

8. Allow yourself to write rubbish. Don’t stop just because that perfect phrase or word is eluding you. Make a quick note and keep writing.

9. Be wary of all distractions. One of the biggest distractions for writers is social media. We need it, but we shouldn’t let it take over our precious writing time. Give yourself a separate time for social media. Other types of distractions we face are writing related distractions. A great example is research. You might come across a segment in your manuscript where you need to look up how something might work. Make a note and move on. Do your research while watching television or some other time you haven’t designated specifically for writing.

10. Don’t edit until your draft is complete. If you edit as you go, you create a distraction for yourself and by the end of the draft you might’ve realized that you need to do a major rewrite and discard the segment you spent all that time on.

In summary, always be mindful of the importance of momentum in your writing. Make the time to write, avoid all the distractions and practice discipline. And keep writing.

What do you do to keep writing? How has maintaining momentum in your writing helped you?

Lynda R. Young

Monday, June 12, 2017

From Excellent Indie Author Tips to Dreams of a Castle Retreat

Today IWSG has the amazing Derek Murphy to share some excellent tips for Indie Authors.

It's great to have you here today, Derek. So let's just hop right in with a central question. What’s your best advice to authors about creating author platforms?

Derek: Design is important for trust and credibility, but nobody will visit your site unless you are writing about the things they are interested in (using keywords they're searching for). So worry more about the content and getting backlinks from more established sites, than site design. You can always fix it after you get more traffic.

You have to crank up your audio for Derek's video. But how kind of him to take the time to create this just for IWSG readers.

What should authors consider when setting up their websites? (This probably ties in with #1, but I thought there might be some specific details about what to include and what to avoid in this piece of the platform.)

Derek: I use wordpress because it's easy to change later. Don't throw in a ton of everything. Focus on the user experience and getting them to take action, so you can measure it. You can't improve what you can't measure.
100 visits a day = 1 optin? Can you get it up to 2 or 3? Can you boost traffic?

You offer a course called Guerrilla Publishing. What can an author expect from that course?

Derek: Guerrilla Publishing is the basics of publishing quickly and launching well. I have other courses that cover a lot more, but I've found authors need less, not more. A simple plan that works. there's still a lot to do, and it can be exhausting, but if you set things up right and launch well, you can focus on the next book right away, instead of always trying to promote the first.

As a cover designer, among other amazing talents, can you tell us what the cover should do for a book?

Derek: The cover gets the right readers to read the description of the book - most authors' covers fail because they aren't attracting the right audience, either because they just aren't attractive and professional, or because the authors tried to do something unique and different for their genre-bending book. You must decide which market you're shooting for, and it should be a pretty big market, and then the cover should look like what readers expect from that market. They won't read the description to figure out what the book is about if the cover hasn't already sold them on the genre.

Tell us about your dream of a writers’ retreat in a European castle.

Derek: Still a dream, but it's something that inspires people - we rented one last year and will probably rent a castle every year for nanowrimo, but buying one is probably impractical - it was much harder to get people to take a month off and join me in europe than I'd thought it would be. I can find 10 or 20 a year, but to fundraise to buy a castle I was thinking I needed about 1000 people to buy some time to fund it. Now I'm thinking of making a writer's colony or camp in Oregon or Washington.

I want to write in a castle! Anyone out there who'd like to have that kind of experience?

Thanks, Derek. Really appreciated your participating in this interview for IWSG and sharing all your great information with our members.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Submissions Open for Free IWSG Guide / IWSG

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a safe place for insecure writers of all kinds.

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. We encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. 

Our awesome co-hosts for today are: JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner!

Our Twitter is @TheIWSG and hashtag #IWSG

Optional June 7th Question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?


Submission Period Now Open to Our Members!

The IWSG Guide to Writing for Profit

This will be a non-fiction book like our Guide to Publishing and Beyond.

What to write: Share experiences about making a profit as an author, what it takes to become a successful writer, the many skills a writer needs to learn other than writing, share the experience going from hobby writer to published author (without making it a self-promotion piece), the fallacies behind writing for profit, the little known facts learned along the way, what you wished you knew when you first started writing, or marketing tips based on experience of what has worked and what hasn't.

If you gave any questions, email us at admin AT

Word limit: 500-1000 words.

Submission eligibility: All members of the IWSG Blog Hop, IWSG Facebook group and/or members of our IWSG Goodreads Book Club. It's free to join any of these groups and a great benefit to be a part of these communities.

Deadline: July 31, 2017

Send your piece to admin AT as an attached Word document and note which IWSG group you belong to. Please include your name, a one line bio, and one website link.

***The BEST 100 articles will be included in the book!***

BOOK CLUB: The IWSG Book Club will be reading for June/July....

This book will demonstrate characterization, which was voted #1 by our members for what they want to learn how to do better. Even if you've read this book before, reread it with fresh eyes.

Whether you read a book is up to you. 

Whether you join the book discussion is up to you. 

Though we do hope for both. ;) 

And you can join any book discussion, even if you don’t read the book.

Our book club is not a strict one. 

Join us and participate when you can.

Optional July 5th Question: What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

QUESTIONS: Have you ever said "I quit"? Do you make a profit writing? Will you read The Secret Garden (or re-read it with fresh eye), paying attention to characterization?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Coffee, Anybody?

Coffee is consumed in various ways: black, with a dollop of cream or milk, and some people like to add a spoon of honey. Then there is the artisanal coffee movement that regards coffee as an art with its endless possibilities, combinations and complexities.

Are you a coffee drinker? How do you take your coffee? Everybody has their own little quirks when it comes to coffee or any other frequently consumed food or beverage. The famous Ludwig van Beethoven was said to obsessively count out 60 beans of coffee, the perfect amount in his opinion, for every cup he drank.

Even some of our favorite fictional characters are particular about their drink orders. James Bond and his signature vodka martini - shaken, not stirred; Homer Simpson has been drinking Duff beer for over 20 years; JD, from Scrubs and his Appletini; and Jay Gatsby's Gin Rickey, to name a few.

So how does your character take his or her coffee? Find out by inviting your protagonist and/or other central characters to a fictional cafĂ© or fictional bar. Visualize what they do. Pay attention to their little habits. What is your character’s favourite drink? How does he/she make coffee? Is there a preferred method? Some people first add milk or cream. Others prefer to pour their dairy into the cup before the coffee. 

We want our characters to be as close as possible to ‘real, human beings’. Part of being human is possessing these character quirks. The trick is to implement these quirks consistently. What are your character’s habits? What does he/she do throughout the story? Identify settings and activities in which you can show the character’s habits.

How can we use a ‘coffee moment’ to make the story interesting? Increase tension by having someone add more sugar than normal, into their coffee/tea. Or forget to put the sugar in. This could also create a moment of humorous shock as the character, already stressed, takes a sip of that coffee/tea only to find it was not the expected taste. Maybe the character gulps, loses composure and/or knocks over the cup of scalding coffee; or spits the coffee in somebody’s face. Perhaps the restaurant is really busy and the waiter delivers the wrong beverage. This could lead to all sorts of interesting complications, involving the shady-looking character at the next table, who accidentally receives the wrong order.

Do you want to learn more about your characters? Spend some time with them in day-to-day, habitual situations. Notice their responses and how they shine in ordinary situations. Then they will dazzle in those magical moments that make it into your final draft. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Reedsy To The Rescue

It’s been said that Vladimir Nabokov preferred to write in a parked car as it felt like a bubble of quiet and stillness; and that Agatha Christie would dream up plots for her mystery novels while sitting alone in a bathtub, munching on apples.

Images of writers in solitude with thought bubbles above their heads, playing out scenes in made-up worlds might be a romantic notion. But if you’re an independent author looking to publish a novel, then you know that image dissipates when the first draft of your manuscript is finished. In order to turn the manuscript into a finished, ready-to-publish product, what follows is teamwork — and that’s where Reedsy comes in.

Reedsy is a marketplace of publishing professionals. Here, authors in the process of publishing a book can browse through a roster of carefully curated freelancers with an extensive range of niche specialties. But Reedsy is more than just a marketplace, it’s a community for writers. Three of the most significant parts of this community are: the professionals, the courses, and the authors.

The Professionals 

Can you edit your own book? Sure. Can you design a book cover for your novel? You bet. Should you do either of those things? To put it gently: no.

“But I’m an artist — Picasso didn’t hire someone to look over his paintings before showing them to the world.” Well, you are not Picasso, and if you were, I would tell you that while your paintings are mesmerizing, if they were somehow translated into books a lot of people would probably leave Amazon reviews saying they didn’t quite “get it.”

Publishing houses do not employ teams of editors, designers, marketers, etc. just “for good measure.” They do so because the skills of those professionals are required to publish a novel people want to buy. And a self-published book is no different. Heed the advice of freelance book marketer and indie author Michael Doane: “You need to approach self-publishing with an entrepreneur’s perspective, because you need to invest money if you want to create a beautiful product that will earn you money in return.”

The Reedsy marketplace is currently home to over 600 publishing professionals including: developmental editors, query letter reviewers, cover designers, illustrators, typographers, blog tour and press coverage experts, ghostwriters, email marketing specialists, and more. The best part is that all of this talent is just a click away for anyone who wants to publish a book. Easily locate freelancers for specific services using the search function and then spend hours perusing detailed profiles of people who want to help turn your novel into a masterpiece.

Did you know: our list of freelancers includes Stephen King’s designer, Neil Gaiman’s editor, and Dan Brown’s publicist? To browse our marketplace of professionals, and to get $25 off your first Reedsy collaboration as a IWSG member, sign up here!

The Courses

Fans of Jack Kerouac will likely know the story of how the author wrote his novel, On The Road, on a 120-foot scroll of paper during a three-week typing frenzy. However, that’s just what it was, a typing frenzy. The actual conception and publication of the book required rewrites and multiple drafts just like any other book.

And that’s the thing about publishing a book: it can’t happen in one go. There is a learning curve involved in writing a book, and there is absolutely a learning curve in understanding how to self-publish a successful one.

That is why we launched Reedsy Learning, a series of free, online ten-part courses that cover a range of topics, from “Book Reviews and How to Get Them”, to “How to Build a Solid Writing Routine”. All of our courses are built to turn writers into publishing entrepreneurs. They'll support you throughout the whole journey — from the first writing stages to the distribution process.

Did you know: it takes up to 3 days for Amazon to register a “sale” and attribute it to your AMS ad? This is why you should never turn off an Amazon ads campaign in the first 72 hours just because you don’t see sales come in. Find out more about Amazon ads for authors in our newest course!

The Community

Author Neil Gaiman once said, “Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it's always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” While we can relate to Gaiman’s sentiments, we also feel that calling in like-minded cavalry can help your fight.

This is why a priority of ours at Reedsy is creating a community of publishing professionals, and primarily, authors. There are a few ways in which we have sought to make Reedsy a place where writers can connect with one another:

The Reedsy blog
The Reedsy blog, where we post craft and technical pieces alike. But more importantly in terms of community, we host the From Our Authors series where indie authors who have used Reedsy to collaborate with professionals talk about their writing journeys. They share the learnings they have acquired throughout the publishing process, and offer tips for fellow writers going through the same process.


The #IWriteBecause campaign, which launched at the beginning of May, has been bringing authors from all walks of life together by giving them a chance to share what drives them to write. The core of this campaign is to empower a new generation of readers and writers, and to this end, Reedsy is donating $10 for every #IWriteBecause video submitted to Room to Read — a nonprofit that focuses on child literacy in Asia and Africa.

Update from the Reedsy community: Six months after hiring a Reedsy editor and publishing her debut novel, Until I Met Her, Natalie Barelli was signed by Amazon Publishing’s imprint Thomas and Mercer! On May 30th, her novel will be formally re-released.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Platform? What's That?

Platform? What's That?

Platform Is A Must

I asked myself that a lot when I started writing for publication, and I did a lot of research to find the answer. Finally, I boiled it down to this.

#1 Decide what you want to be and become an expert.

I wanted to be Young Adult and Middle Grade book author. That was simple. To become an expert wasn’t. But I signed up for SCBWI, I attended conferences, I joined a critique group. Several. I wrote, I read. Over the years I learned a lot about writing and marketing. I also learned that becoming an expert takes a while, and because nothing remains the same, you can’t just stop and be smug about what you know.

#2 Establish a presence online.

Tell people who you are and what you do. I set up a webpage and a blog. I signed up for Twitter and created Facebook pages. I joined Goodreads and LinkedIn. 

#3 Connect with other professionals in your field. Network.

I began locally. My critique group was the beginning, then I started meeting other writers and agents and publishers at conferences and by doing presentations or sitting on panels.

I offered to do workshops for writers, and now do that yearly. 

#4 Be clear, be consistent and be constant. (The 3 Cs)

This was excellent advice, simple to remember, but challenging to maintain. I’m still working on this.

#5 Ask for help.

Get feedback from those who know what they’re doing and are doing it well. I appreciate all the people I’ve connected with online and in person. I love their feedback on my work and really appreciate it. 

After doing this for a while, I figured out I just had to be me and tell people who that me is, using the principle of those three Cs. Your platform won't happen overnight, but it will grow and mature if you stick with it. 

“Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”
~Judy Garland

Monday, May 8, 2017

Planning a Writer's Conference?

Have you ever wondered what’s involved in putting together a writing conference or book festival? Thinking of starting your own? Let author Austin Camacho tell you what’s really involved!

How far in advance is a conference planned?

The day after a conference ends we hold the first meeting to start planning the next one. There are a lot of moving parts and successful authors plan their calendars pretty far out. We need the details pinned down early if we're going to attract great talent.

Reader/Writer conferences very in prices. What’s the best way to assess the value versus cost, both as an attendee and an organizer?

For readers, the value of a conference is based on three things: will the writers I want to see be there? How much access will I have to those writers? And what is included? For example, at our Creatures, Crimes and Creativity Con all meals during the event are included in the registration price.

Writers should assess the value of a con based on three other criteria.
1. Networking – will I meet the movers and shakers in MY genre, am I looking for an agent, will I have access to major successes in the business?
2. Promotion- will I get exposure to new readers by being on panels, will I participate in book signings, will I be positioned to be associated with big name writers, will I get a story in an anthology, will I be listed on the con’s web site, in the program, on their Facebook page?
3. The Experience – Will I be talking to fans, being interviewed for radio or on camera, have a chance to pitch or buzz my book?

What are some of the key aspects to consider when planning a major conference? What are some things people might not think about?

Many of these are things we learned AFTER our first Con. Location is important, including access to airports and highways. The food really matters. You have to figure a set of panels and presentations that appeal to both avid readers AND authors. The venue personnel must be friendly and helpful. Venue personnel have to fully understand the schedule so chairs, tables, podiums etc are in the right place at the time. You have to market the Con all year. Con personnel have to be easy to spot so attendees know who to tell if there’s a problem. And you have to remember to treat your special guests like they’re special. The happier they are the better the Con will be.

What’s key to attracting big name authors/publishers/agents to a conference?

It’s best to meet them and know their work BEFORE asking them to attend. That most often happens at other Cons. It’s important to contact them several months before the event to get on their busy calendars. And it is vital to explain why attendance is good for THEM, not you.

What social media platforms work best for marketing a convention?

Facebook has been key for us, but Twitter is also important. We hold a Twitter contest every year. The attendee who uses our hashtag most in the month before the event wins a Kindle Fire and a gift basket of surprise goodies.

What can go wrong and how do you work around problems?

Our most challenging issue so far was a keynote speaker getting sick and being unable to attend. Luckily we had a list of people we wanted the following year and after contacting several we were able to get someone to fill in.

I know other Cons have crashed and burned because of unexpected bad weather. Not much you can do about that.

Tell us a little bit about Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity Con and what is your key role?

The Creatures, Crimes & Creativity (C3) Con is the Mid-Atlantic’s book lover event of the year. It’s held in Columbia MD, September 8-10 this year. We gather readers AND writers of mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal fiction. This year we have Peter Blauner and Jonathan Maberry as keynote speakers. Our little community hangs out on Facebook And you can register at Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity.

As one of the organizers my primary responsibility is to recruit keynote speakers and local guests. I also see to their care and feeding thru the Con. Thank goodness we have a small but motivated committee to deal with the hundreds of other details (registration, on site bookstore, panels, dealing with the venue, menus, scheduling, etc.)

Austin S. Camacho is the author of six novels about Washington Dc-based private eye Hannibal Jones, five in the Stark and O’Brien international adventure-thriller series, and the detective novel, Beyond Blue. His short stories have been featured in several anthologies including Dying in a Winter Wonderland – an Independent Mystery Booksellers Association Top Ten Bestseller for 2008 - and he is featured in the Edgar nominated African American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic Study by Frankie Y. Bailey.

Camacho is also editorial director for Intrigue Publishing, a Maryland small press, and works with their authors to improve their manuscripts. And Camacho is deeply involved with the writing community. He is a past president of the Maryland Writers Association, past Vice President of the Virginia Writers Club, and is an active member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime. Website / Facebook

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

#IWSG - Insecure Writer's Support Group and the release of Hero Lost!

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up.

We post the first Wednesday of every month. We encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

Our awesome co-hosts for the May 3 posting of the IWSG will be Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Michelle Wallace, and Feather Stone! 

Our Twitter is @TheIWSG and hashtag #IWSG

Optional May Question:  What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?


Want to know how the authors of the newest IWSG Anthology answered this question? Check out Admin/Co-host Michelle Wallace's BLOG today to find out!!!


It's finally here. 

Hero Lost
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!

In this marvelous collection of speculative fiction, we journey through twelve wonderfully written tales to find out if the tortured hero can be redeemed. - Christine Rains, author

The authors have done us a favour by all being darned good at their craft. Recommended for fantasy fans. - Gordon Long, author

Print ISBN 9781939844361 $14.95
eBook ISBN 9781939844378 $4.99


eBook -

Blogs/sites -
Jen Chandler -- L. Nahay -- Renee Cheung -- Roland Yeomans -- Elizabeth Seckman -- Olga Godim -- Yvonne Ventresca -- Ellen Jacobson -- Sean McLachlan -- Erika Beebe -- Tyrean Martinson -- Sarah Foster


 Check out the Hero Lost Blog Tour!

May 2 - Stephanie Faris - Guest Post
May 3 - Michelle Wallace - Interview

May 5 - Cathrina Constantine - Spotlight Post

May 7 - Ronel Janse van Vuuren - Interview
May 8 - Bish Denham - Guest Post

May 8 - Patricia Lynne - Guest Post
May 9 - ChemistKen - Guest Post
May 10 - M.J. Fifield - Guest Post
May 15 - Alex J. Cavanaugh - Interview
May 15 - Juneta Key - Spotlight Post
May 17 - Nicki Elson - Interview
May 19 - Chrys Fey - Guest Post
May 22 - Christine Rains - Review

May 22 - Nick Wilford - Guest Post
May 24 - Toi Thomas - Interview



Ever thought about being a co-host for IWSG posting day? Co-hosting means a lot more visitors to your site and it’s a lot of fun. Please leave a comment if you can volunteer this summer!