Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Market and Bloggy Vacation

photo courtesy of 19Melissa68
I'm taking a couple of weeks off to enjoy the holidays. Come back after the first of the year, and I'll get back on my novel, new contests and conferences... And be thinking about your goals. I'll post mine, if you'll tell me yours. Then we can hold each other accountable. Deal?

Oh, here's the market. If you like to write
green, here's a link to the writers' guidelines for Plenty magazine.

Have a great holiday season!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Themed Novel Contest

photo courtesy of chicks57

The folks at Ellora's Cave Publishing are holding a contest to find your favorite holiday themed novel. Check out the post on their blog for details.

The contest is limited to fiction published after 1970 and there are prizes to boot. You've got until December 22nd to post comments on their blog listing author and title and a paragraph or two about the story and why it is your holiday favorite.

After 1970 is tough for me. Most everything I think of relating to the holidays is in movie form. Christmas Vacation, Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (yes... you got a problem with that), Muppet Family Christmas (so, see previous answer), Miracle on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Life, White Christmas. Those are all my favorites. It just dawned on me. As much as I read, I don't think I've ever read a Christmas-themed book. Point me in the right direction...

I'm not a scrooge about the holidays. It's just that I think holidays are a time to be with family. I can't do that with my nose stuck in a book. And it seems senseless to read a holiday book say...during June. Instead, we pop in our favorite movies and enjoy the evening as a family. But writer friends, I promise I'm an avid reader the rest of the year. You can ask Borders and Barnes and Noble. They know me well.

I'll have to check back after the contest and see who the winner is. Maybe I'll ask Santa to put the winning book in my stocking.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Personal Essay Contest and Writer Networking

Take a guess who the baby is...

Memoirs, Ink. Half-Yearly Personal Essay Contest - 2009 Contest Guidelines:

Less is even more this year. What makes this contest different is that the word limit is half that of our yearly contest. The guidelines are below.

Memoirs Ink is looking for original, well-written personal essays, memoirs, or stories that are based on autobiographical experiences. The narrative must be in first person, other that that, the contest is open to any type, genre or style of story. It is open to any writer, any age, writing in English--that means Canadians, Brits, Australians, Ugandans and anyone else anywhere can enter.

Entry must be previously unpublished (this includes websites and blogs).

Entry fee: $17. (Please make check or money order to Memoirs, Ink.) or you can pay online. (Make sure to mail in receipt of payment with entry.) Get $2 off entry fee by becoming a fan on Facebook.

Prizes: This year, to prove that less is more, or at least reward less with more, we are giving away more prize money. First Prize: $1000. Second Prize: $500. Third Prize: $250.

Please limit entries to less than 1500 words.

Contest Deadline: February 15, 2009 (postmark). Late Deadline: February 28, 2009 (Postmark - Late entries require additional $5 entry fee per entry)

Winners will be announced April 30, 2008. We will announce them by e-mail and on our website.
Send entries to: Memoirs Ink Writing Contest 10866 Washington Blvd, Suite 518, Culver City, CA 90232

Please submit entries as follows: Typed, double-spaced, 12 pt. font.
Your name should appear only on the contest submission form. Click here to print submission form.

The title of the manuscript should appear on every page.
The pages should be numbered.
We used to prefer paperclips, but are now partial to staples.
Multiple submissions are accepted, however, an additional $10 entry fee is required for each additional story.
Simultaneous submissions are accepted, however, if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere, you need to let us know immediately that you are withdrawing your submission.
E-mail questions to Jill at Memoirsink dot com

Other Info

Manuscripts will not be returned. Memoirs, Ink., is not responsible for manuscripts lost in the mail, etc. Memoirs, Ink cannot confirm receipt of your entry unless you provide a self-addressed stamped postcard.

Winners must sign a contest winner agreement form that certifies your writing is original and assigns us temporary rights and electronic archiving rights.

If you win, we will publish your story. If you do not want your story published please do not submit it.

We reserve the right to mention or not mention anyone honorably.
Winners will be contacted between April 1-30, 2009.


I'm already making resolutions for the new year. Diet failed, so let's try something new. My resolution for the new year is to network, network, network. This is a challenge for me. I know I appear to be a big mouth, but I'm not. Really, I'm not. Talking off the cuff does not come easy. Put me in front of a crowd to talk about something I know something about--no problem. But ask me to make small talk, and I freeze.

I don't consider myself shy, and I don't suffer from stage fright. Speaking in public doesn't make me nervous. So what's the problem? Beats the hell out of me.

So there you have it--my New Year's Resolution. I've said it out loud, so now I have to act on it.

Here's my networking strategy for the new year... (if you can think of others, let me know.)

1. I resolve to mingle more at conferences. Usually I slither into the room at the last minute, find a seat at the back and then beat feet out when the presentation is over.

2. I resolve not to skip social hours at conferences.

3. I resolve to visit other area writer's groups and expand my writing network of friends.

4. I resolve to put myself out there at workshops and conferences by meeting and talking to the presenters and conference organizers.

5. I resolve to put my writing first, but not be obnoxious about it. (I hate it when people are me, me, me and won't let others get a word in edgewise.)

6. I resolve to grow my online writing network.

7. I resolve to actually use my business cards.

8. I resovle to grow my blog by telling people about it (help me out here and tell your friends to stop by for a visit.)

9. I resolve to tell people that I am a writer when they ask what I do.

10. I resolve to pay attention to others who are good at networking and learn their secrets of success.

For you shy ones, C. Hope Clark has a book called The Shy Writer .

Monday, December 8, 2008

First Paragraph Challenge

photo courtesy of abbyladybug

Crazy guy. He's done it again. Nathan Bransford at Curtis Brown LTD. is hosting his 2nd Sort-of-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge. Go check it out here.

Here's Nathan's rules.

1. Please post the first paragraph of any work-in-progress in the comments section of his post (NOT HERE FOLKS-GO TO HIS BLOG). The deadline for entry is THURSDAY 4pm Pacific time, at which point entries will be closed. Finalists will be announced on Friday, at which time you will exercise your democratic rights to choose a grand prize super awesome winner.
2. You may enter once, once you may enter, and enter once you may.
3. Spreading word about the contest is strongly encouraged.
4. I will be sole judge this time. Bwa ha ha.
5. A word on word count: I am not imposing a word count on the paragraphs. However, a paragraph that is too long may lose points in the judge's eyes. Use your own discretion.

Here's da prize.

The grand prize super awesome winner of the SUFPCx2 will win their choice of a partial critique, query critique or 15 minute phone conversation in which we can discuss topics ranging from reality TV shows to, you know, publishing. Your choice. Runners up will receive query critiques and/or other agreed-upon prizes.

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Favorite Writing Books

photo courtesy of Lynn
As promised my favorite writing books in no particular order.

* Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (a must for any aspiring writer)

* Write Right by Jan Venolia (a compact tool kit for writers)

* Painless Grammar by Rebecca Elliot, Ph.d. (a painless and funny guide to better grammar)

* The Fiction Writer's Silent Partner by Martin Roth (great tool for generating ideas)

* No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty (he helps you stomp down your internal editor and write)

* Make a Scene by Jordan Rosenfeld (if you can't write a scene after reading this, keep your day job)

*First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Wiesner (love her worksheets)

* Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King (this is the book I'm using to go back and edit my first novel. Really helps you find the flaws and weaknesses in your writing.)

* The Little Red Writing Book by Brandon Royal (short and sweet and a great book to take on the road. It's compact.)

* Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents (Oh boy... I know you can get this stuff on the Internet, but I'm still a book snob. He also provides advice and interviews with agents and such. Thank you Jeff Herman for compiling it in a single book. My carpal tunnel thanks you.)

* Writer's Market (Yep, this stuff is on the Internet, too. They compile it plus provide tips and interviews.)

* To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (I know it's not a book on the craft of writing, but read it and you'll know why I included it. It's a classic. And to think Harper Lee only wrote the one book. Oh my gosh...)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Short Fiction Contest and Gifts for Writers

photo courtesy of taberandrew

Boulevard Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers

A prize of $1,500 and publication in Boulevard is given annually for a short story by a writer who has not published a nationally distributed book. The editors of Boulevard will judge.
Submit a story of any length with a $15 entry fee, which includes a one-year subscription to Boulevard, by December 31.

Send an SASE, call, or visit the website for complete guidelines. Boulevard, Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers, P.O. Box 325, 6614 Clayton Road, Richmond Heights, MO 63117. (314) 862-2643. Richard Burgin, Editor.

Gifts for the writer in your life (or you or me.)

-Fuzzy Slippers (to keep footsies toasty under the desk)
-Office Supplies (paperclips, index cards, sticky notes and flags, red ink pens, computer paper)
-Ink Cartridges for Printer (I'd heart you forever)
-Flash Drives (my fav is the SanDisk)
-Digital Recorder (I love mine. It comes in handy when I'm driving and get a brainstorm.)
-Gift Certificates for book stores (we need to keep the book business alive)
-Books on the craft of writing
-Music CD's (who doesn't have a favorite song or artist who inspires them.)
-Registration for a conference they want to attend
-Chocolate (it keeps the internal editor happy)
-Diet Coke (it counteracts the calories from the chocolate)
-Subscription to Writer's Digest (gotta keep those magazines in business)
-Thesaurus (I know I can use WORD, but sometimes you just want to look it up in a book)
-Stapler (it's an office supply, but you gotta try the Paper Pro One Finger Stapler-love it!)
-3-Hole Punch (or if you really heart the person buy the already punched paper)
-Wireless Keyboard (then they can pace around the room)
-Office Chair ( Don't get that balancing ball thing, unless you buy them extra insurance.)
-Portfolio (to keep all the clippings of published articles handy and presentable)
-Postage Stamps (for all those submissions)

Tomorrow, I'll share my favorite writing books.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Short Story and Poetry Contest and What's Next.

photo courtesy of jodimarr

Crazyhorse, a literary journal announces their Crazyhourse Fiction Prize and Lynda Hull Memorial Poetry Prize here .

Top Prize is $2000 and publication in Crazyhorse. Entry fee is $16 per manuscript for new entrants and $14 per manuscript if you've entered Crazyhorse prizes before.

Deadline is Dec. 15, 2008. Get cracking!

I've finally come down off my NaNoWriMo high and found I actually have some words left (my friends won't be surprised, because I usually never shut up.) I've taken this week off to recuperate (ie. sleep late), clean my office (I pretended to throw stuff away so my husband would shut up about the mess) and get ready to decorate the house for Christmas (okay, put up a fake tree with a couple of shiny ornaments and tinsel that I saved from last year. I had to throw the candy canes away because they got all gooey. Who knew?)

I have three more days, then I get back to work on the novel. Ya'll keep me on my toes, because I have a tendency to slack (play computer games.)

Tomorrow I'll post my list of favorite gifts to buy the writer in your life (or me, if you're so inclined.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Poetry Contest

courtesy of sbpoet
One-page Poem Contest

In honor of April being poetry month,

Saturday Writers is announcing our 7th annual poetry contest!

Submission Guidelines:

1) Any style, any subject, any form. Wow us in one page. (One poem per single-spaced page.)
2) No identification should appear on the entry. Attach a separate coversheet with title, name, address, e-mail, and phone number.
3) Two copies of each entry! (Each judge needs a copy.)
4) Entry fee: $5 per poem, maximum of three entries.
5) Poems must be unpublished at the time of submission, original work of the contestant.
6) Deadline: March 16, 2009 postmark.
7) Prizes: 1st place - $100, 2nd place - $50, 3rd place - $25. Top 10 entries receive a certificate.
8) Winners will be announced on the website by April 30, 2009. Certificates and cash prizes will be mailed in early May.
9) Mail entries flat, not folded, to:

Louella Turner
Saturday Writers One-page Poem Contest Coordinator
2731 Cumberland Landing
St. Charles, MO 63303

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do NOT send by certified mail!

10) Checks payable to: Saturday Writers.

Contest is open to members of Saturday Writers and non-members. Prize winners and honorable mention recipients (top ten only) may be given the opportunity to have their stories included (one time rights) in the Saturday Writers literary collection, published the following year.

For a list of winners, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Or check out our website after April 30:

Decision of judges is final. Not responsible for lost or misdirected entries. Poems will not be returned. Submissions paid for by checks which are returned by the bank will be immediately disqualified.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Novel Contest and Shopping Update

photo courtesy of weidmaier

It's almost time for Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Contest., Penguin Group (USA), and CreateSpace are joining forces for the Breakthrough Novel Award for 2009.

If you have an unpublished novel holed up in a drawer somewhere (and honestly who doesn't?), get that sucker out and spit shine it. Open submissions begin in February of 2009. Check out this link for details.

While you're at it, sign up for contest updates.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Mine was awesome. Spent it with family and had a great dinner. And I didn't have to cook. What's not to love about that?

Spent a hectic day on Friday running from store to store in search of bargains. Found not a one, but I spent it with my daughter. We had a great time making fun of all the people lined up outside the stores. Not us. While a whole gaggle of folks were lined up outside Target, we raced into Penney's (no line), made our purchase, then raced down to Dick's Sporting Goods--again no line.

But taking up four spaces (that's right 4) in front of Best Buy was a rented motor home. Yep, a motor home. Apparently some women had rented a motor home to do their holiday shopping in. When we arrived they were sitting inside, drinking coffee. We could see them through the windows-and no we are not peeping toms. They had the curtains open and the lights on, so in the dark night, they stuck out like sore thumbs.

Now I ask you, what kind of bargains warrant renting a motor home?? I don't know about you, but I saved about $10 on my bargains Friday. So there is no motor home in my future shopping escapades.

I'm sure you're asking why I would get up at 5:00 am for a $10 savings. Tradition, folks. It's all about tradition. Heck, I don't even care if I buy anything. It's me and my daughter dragging butt out of bed in the dark and racing to the store--together. It's the day witih my daughter that's important and laughing at the other crazies who brave the night air in search of the elusive bargain.

Oh, and about the shopping cart--I didn't do it. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

TA-DA Final Word Count 50079 or 50055

This is what it's all about folks. No fireworks, no awesome speeches, just the satisfaction of knowing that I had the perserverance to sweat out 50,000 words in less than thirty days- Actually 50,079 by my word counter and 50,055 by NaNoWriMo's word counter.

But it's over. It's done. Now back to regularly scheduled programing.
I'm going to take a couple of bloggy days off to eat turkey and let my carpel tunnel rest, then I'll be back on Monday posting. This novel goes in the drawer for a while, but the other one gets pulled out and finished. (I have now let my internal editor out of the drawer, and let me tell you, she is hopping mad. No amount of chocolate is going to calm her down. She wants to see that novel and she's not taking no for an answer.)

I'll be blogging about my progress finishing the edits, what my readers think of it and even my progress in writing my stinking synopsis. Finally, I hope to be shopping it to agents around February. When I don't have progress to report, I'll be posting writing opportunities, contests, and interesting writing tips and newsy items.

Conference time is right around the corner, so if you know of good ones, let me know and I'll get them posted.

Have a blessed holiday, and stop back by on Monday. If you're traveling, travel safe.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sprinting to the Finish Line--Word Count 47014

Courtesy of TimothyJ

I'm headed for the finish line. Tomorrow will be a monster. After I get home for the gym, I'm locking myself in my office with a gallon of Diet Coke, a bag of pretzels and a Depends. Okay, a box of Depends. I'm not coming out until I hit 50,000 words.

My daughter gets in tomorrow night for the holiday. I don't want to have to write while she's home.

Friday is our annual "shopping bitches" day. (Don't judge us. I see you tsking.) We get out and elbow the crowds just like all the other crazed bargain hunters. Armed with coupons and cell phones, we sneak out of the house before daylight (lest we wake the dogs and then have to stop and take them potty.) It's really quite hilarious. I think last year, I forgot to brush my hair. And my daughter wears scrubs (probably the ones she slept in, but I'm not telling.)
courtesy of LarimdaME

Each car we pass on the way to our first victim/store, we high five each other, because it's one more carload of shoppers that we'll be in front of. If one passes us, we get out the gogo-gadget wheels and step on the gas.

One year, we arrived at Famous Barr (before they sold their souls, I mean before they became Macy's) at 5 am, to stand in line to get the $10 off coupon that they were giving to the first XXX customer. We were there in plenty of time. It was freezing cold and we were dressed in jeans and sweatshirts (no coats to weigh us down while we were shopping.) People were standing around bundled up in blankets and quilts. We could see the managers inside the store counting down to zero hour. We were well within the number of lucky people who would receive the coupon. Zero hour arrived, the doors flew open and two carloads of women pulled up to the curb, hopped out and elbowed their way to the front of the line.

I kid you not. Everyone was screaming at them to no avail. They got the dang coupons and we missed out by about five people. Stupid shopping bitches! We had probably passed them on the highway.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Call for Submissions - AND Word Count 40734

I made it over 40,000. The total is 40734 and that's 81% of the way to the finish line. I'm not getting overly confident. I still have to come up with over 9000 words. That's a lot of plot to add. I'll be spending some time going back over my outline and seeing where I need to add scenes. I know of several, but some will have to come after I've reached the 50000, because they require a lot more thought than I'm able to put in them right now.

For those of you wondering... No it's not done when I reach 50000. It's only the beginning. I need to add about 25000 more words, but I also need to go back and begin the editing phase (remember the little internal editor is locked away.) There's still a lot of work to do.

'Nuff about that. I promised a call for submissions.

Sojourn a journal of the arts is calling for submissions with a deadline of December 31, 2008. They are looking for a variety of submissions which include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art, translations and scripts. Check out their submission guidelines.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Word Count 38793 and Seven Questions

courtesy of thorinside

Laundry is done. Word count is caught up. It took me all day, and I had to skip critique tonight. Sorry scribes. I'll be back in December. I promise.

I ran across a couple of interesting blogs about critiquing. One by my friend Donna who has a site called Donna's Book Pub where she lists her Top Seven Reasons for Joining a Critique Group. Not to be outdone, fellow blogger and Missourian Sean McLachlan lists his Top Seven Reasons for Not Joining a Critique Group on his blog Midlist Writer. If you have the time, go check out both their blogs. Great information and funny.

I can relate to what both bloggers say. My advice is try before you buy. Or check out the group and make sure it fits you and what you want to accomplish. And ask yourself several questions to make sure you are ready for a critique group.

1. Am I ready to hear the good, the bad and the ugly about my work?

2. Can I tell others the good, the bad and the ugly about their work?

3. What do I expect to get from a critique group?

4. What do I have to offer a critique group?

5. Am I willing to revise and learn from critique?

6. How much time am I willing to put into a critique group?

7. Can I differentiate between critiquing a story and critiquing a writer?

So there you have it. My Seven Questions to ask yourself before joining a critique group. You might even turn those questions around and ask them of potential critique groups.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Word Count 36872

Writers Block by bornazombie
It took a while, but I caught up. Thanks to my online writing buddies for suggesting a couple of scenes. They worked. I love them.

Tomorrow, I'll be 75% of the way to my word count goal. My husband has been very patient, even cooking dinner a couple of nights. He's even resorted to bringing me a snack in the evening. Probably just making sure I'm really writing and not playing video games. Honest, I haven't played even one game of Mahjongg.
I think he's a little tired of me locking myself away in the office to write for hours on end. Plus, I really need to do laundry tomorrow. You can only turn your clothes inside out so much, you know.

The dog even growled at me today. See if he gets any treats the next time I go to the pantry.

Oh, this was Barbie day. On Wednesdays, my friend Barb and I run errands and have lunch. I told you this already. Anyway, we did a nice nutritious lunch today--Chili's Shrimp Caesar Salad, minus the caesar dressing and with light ranch on the side. Pretty yummy and not so bad for you.

We also had a little coupon frenzy at Macy's. I love to shop, but I hate to break in new salespeople. Here's a hint, Mr. Retailer--please give these people more than four hours of training before you turn them loose on a big sales day. I know it's not the salespersons fault, but cut loose with some dough and give them more training. I hate seeing a new person struggle with trying to credit a return or some weird problem that never cropped up in training.

And there's always one idiot customer (not me, of course) who wants something special. Like the gal in front of me who brought in a coffee maker that didn't work and couldn't decide if she wanted a replacement or not. Duh? Did you not think about this before you left for the store. It's a simple question with a simple answer, yes or no. It is not multiple choice. And who gives a rip if you left your coupon at home. Go home and get it. I brought mine. There are 75 people behind you in line and we haven't had lunch and we probably have to pee. And we are in the housewares department where there are a lot of sharp knives. Make up your mind.

Sorry, but that felt better. Just wish I could use it in my word count. Let the holiday season begin.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Word Count 32074

who has the upper hadn now? courtesy of sandcastlematt

Yikes! I've fallen behind.

Story veered off in a wierd direction, now I'm trying like crazy to get my character out of a stupid jam.

My internal editor jumped out of the drawer yesterday and sat on my desk shaking her head.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Word Count 30903

courtesy of evadedave
A quick word about palindromes. You know, words that spell the same thing forward and backward. Like Bob, Hannah, Anna, Mom, Dad. You get my drift. Take a look at my word count--30903 a numerical palindrome. Isn't it cute?

Thanks to all the geeks on NaNo who got me started looking for the palindromes.
So tell me more palindromes to get my mind off numerical ones. I seriously need a distraction.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Word Count 28718

Run turkey, run
Well, the month is half over and I'm more than halfway to my 50,000 word goal. Unless I have a major meltdown, looks like I'll actually get to eat turkey with my family.

We had snow flurries here today, so that and the wind made me want to stay inside and write. I have a hard time staying at my desk when the weather is nice. I put my garden to bed early this year, so I'd have time for NaNo and would not be tempted to go out and prune plants.

I have to give kudos to Chris Baty and all the behind the scenes folks that work countless hours to keep NaNoWriMo functional. You all give us the momentum we need to push through our procrastination, stubborn characters, stalled plots and everything else that keeps us from writing.

This is my second year participating in NaNoWriMo. I crossed the finish line last year and plan to do so again this year. But I know if I were doing it on my own, I wouldn't find the ooomph to push me to the end. Thanks for everything you all do.

If you are so inclined hop over here and give NaNoWriMo a small donation to help them defer the costs of this awesome program. I know they will be grateful. I am.
And if you don't know anything about NaNoWriMo, go check out their programs here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Writer's Digest University: Editors' Intensive

Cincinnati at Night by Cayusa

Chuck Sambuchino, Editor of Guide to Literary Agents had a post on his blog about a new Writer's Digest workshop called Writer’s Digest University: Editors’ Intensive.

It's December 13th and 14th at Writer’s Digest Headquarters at F+W Media, Inc., 4700 E. Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236.

The cost is $199.

Check out the link above for more details. But it's limited to 50 people, so better get moving.

WORD COUNT - Ended the day with 26,431

Historic Moment

Balloons by Crystl

Not like the election or anything, but at 6:40pm, I crossed the halfway point. Yeppers, I have 25,003 words. I still have the whole night ahead of me and all day tomorrow before the month is half over.

More later... with a workshop announcement.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Word Count 24402

Chicken dog Matisse with his monkey
I'm closing in on the halfway mark. And I still have more than half a month. Woohoo!

WARNING--DOG STORY FOLLOWS This has nothing to do with writing, but it does provide me with comic relief.

So we're dog sitting my daughter's dogs Max and Matisse. Max is a kindly gent and never causes a problem, unless you drop his lease when you take him for a walk. If that happens and he figures it out, he runs like hell.

Matisse on the other hand is like a boomerang, but it's because he's a big chicken. Tuesday the power company was working on a transformer somewhere in the neighborhood. The lights flickered just long enough for the carbon monoxide detector to go off. It emits a horrible squeal, but it goes out quickly. Well, it squealed and chicken dog about wet himself. Now this dog is over 70 pounds and he's trembling like a big sissy cat. Just about the time we got him calmed down, the power goes off again. Yep, now he's frantic.

I decided to unplug the detector and in the process it went off again. By now he's about to have kittens (and by the way, Max is sacked out on his bed sawing logs.) Matisse raced to the garage door and wanted out. So we let him in the garage. He stayed out there for twenty minutes, and we couldn't coax him back in--not even with a treat.

I felt sorry for him because it was cold, so I opened the van door and he hopped in and curled up on the back seat. He stayed there for an hour before we could get him back inside. When he came in, he kept walking around the table staring at the wall socket where the detector had been plugged in.

Needless to say, the carbon monoxide detector is staying unplugged until he goes home.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Word Count 22238 and Critique Groups

Dice courtesy of pure9

So I'm a bit behind on my word count. Bunko reared its ugly head last night and I stayed too late. I had every intention of getting my word count in early, but it just didn't happen. I figured I'd have plenty of time after. We usually don't party too late, but no we stayed later than usual. I only managed to get about 700 word of my 2000 goal. I still ahead of the NaNo goal, but remember I'm planning on a three-day hiatus around Thanksgiving, so I can enjoy the holiday with my family and not have to be shut up in my office while they're having a good time.

Enough of my whining. I'm skipping critique tomorrow night, so I can get caught up. So in honor of that here's a post on Redlines and Deadlines about critique groups. Enjoy!

What's your experience with critique groups? Do you believe in critiquing with peers or would you rather go it alone?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

American Fiction Prize (and word count 19704)

This from my writing friend Julie Earhart...


Judge: The Member-Guest and The Weatherman author and two-time American Fiction Prize winner Clint McCown

First Prize: $1,000

Second Prize: $500

Third Prize: $250

Entry fee: $12

American Fiction will revive this year with its American Fiction Prize contest, a competition whose past judges include Joyce Carol Oates, Ann Beattie, Raymond Carver, Anne Tyler, Louise Erdrich, Tim O'Brien, and Tobias Wolff.

This year's judge, Clint McCown, teaches in the creative writing program at Virginia Commonwealth University and is a recipient of the Associated Press Award for Documentary Excellence for his investigations of organized crime and corruption in Alabama politics, and the Society of Midland Authors Award. His novel, War Memorials, was designated for Outstanding Achievement in Literature by the Wisconsin Library Association. McCown's short stories and poems have appeared widely, and he has published two books of verse. He has worked as a screenwriter for Warner Bros. and as an actor with the National Shakespeare Company. He has edited several literary journals, including the Beloit Fiction Journal, which he founded in 1984.

Contest winners and finalists will be published by New Rivers Press in Fall 2010 and distributed nationally by The Consortium.

Entries must be postmarked by March 15, 2009. Winners and finalists will be announced by September 2009.

Contest Guidelines:

We accept all genres of unpublished literary fiction. Entries must be: unpublished; strictly 7500 words or less; postmarked by March 15, 2009; clearly marked "American Fiction Prize" on both the story and the outside of the envelope; accompanied by a $12 entry fee per story (make checks payable to American Fiction). Please include a cover page with your name, story title, mailing address, and email address. Do not include your name on the pages of the story. Please ensure all stories are typed, double-spaced, and that the title and page number appear on each page. In lieu of an email address, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

We welcome multiple entries ($12/story). For entries outside the U.S.: please send entry fee in U.S. currency or money order. While we cannot return manuscripts, we will forward a list of the winning stories to any entrant who includes an SASE; as well, we will e-mail contest updates to anyone who provides an active e-mail address. Entrants retain all rights to their stories.

Mail entries to:

American Fiction Prize / 5712 Briarwick Court / Hermitage, TN 37076

Please e-mail any questions to americanfictionprize AT yahoo DOT com. Thank you for your interest, and good luck!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Word Count 18084

Short and sweet today.....

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Word Count 13465

I'm more than 25% of the way to the 50000 words. Big woohoo for me. And I know you guys are visiting, so where's the comments--Thanks Tricia G. for the support. How about the rest of you? Stick your head in and say HEY! (I have it set to MODERATE COMMENTS, so don't worry if you comment doesn't show up right away.)

Sticking to the outline is harder than I imagined. Last year I did NaNoWriMo by the seat of my pants. No outline, just the idea for a story and a few characters in my head. This year I spent some time preparing the outline. I know--already told you that. Not only did I add a twist at the end, now my story has zigged off. But it's a good thing. It's allowing me to add more depth to one of my favorite characters (think major love interest here.)

I'm swilling down the tea and working into the early hours of morning, but I'm having fun. I found a cool free gadget called Cool Timer from Harmony Hollow. I know I could use a kitchen time, but this one make cool noises. I set it for an hour and write. When the timers goes off, I set it for 10 minutes and give myself a little break. When it sounds again, back to work I go. It's really helping me stay on track and away from surfing the internet.

I'm listening to Taylor Swift, Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney and my hero Trace Adkins--especially Trace. I love his voice. I imagine my character Case Alder with Trace's voice, except Alder can't sing. But he's got the same deep voice.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Word Count at the end of Today - 11157

A Winter Wicked Witch courtesy of smcgee
In some respects this NaNoWriMo is easier than last year. I worked out a pretty good outline before the contest began, so I knew more where my story was headed. Last year, when I started NaNoWriMo, I didn't even have a clue whodunit. I just started writing and characters emerged, the storyline changed and by the end of NaNoWriMo I thought I knew whodunit. I didn't. In the editing process, I added a twist and another character was born.

So the fact that I know where this one is headed is easier, I thought. Today I changed the whodunit. But it made sense and it makes plotting the story easier. I was having trouble with the motive of my suspect, so this change makes so much sense. And it's too cool. I also have to credit my friend, Tricia G for the suggestion. Tricia G, you rock. Now finish that damn zombie book.

The hard part for this one is turning off my internal editor. I thought I'd left her on a cruise ship in Montreal, but the little snit has turned up. I didn't even leave chocolate crumbs, so how she found me, I'll never know. But she's screaming at me to slow down and add sensory details.

Maybe I better get some sleep.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Word Count 7426

my messy desk 3 courtesy of sparkle glowplug

All I can say is thank goodness my desk doesn't look like that one.

Here's a shout to my friend Barb who didn't know I had a blog, even though I email her her a bazillion times a day, and the blog site is on my signature. Hi Barb!

Today was our weekly outing (me and Barb.) We usually spend Wednesdays together running errands, eating lunch and shopping. So needless to say I'm just now starting on my word count for the day. I'll be up until the wee hours of morning, but that's okay. I enjoy my Wednesdays with Barb and wouldn't trade them for a finished novel.

Barb and I keep each other sane by sharing rants about our husbands, kids, families and life in general. But the great thing is we're equal opportunity ranters. She might monopolize the rant this week, but I get my turn next week. And so it goes. Fortunately for you, I won't be sharing those rants, I'll save mine for Barb next week.

Back to the manuscript.

P.S. For those of you who read my story about the white pants and red flowered underwear--it was Barb who didn't tell me until I'd made a fool out of myself. Thanks Barb.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cast Your Ballot

Voting is Patriotic (USA) courtesy of farlane
Time out from NaNoWriMo for a political message.

Tuesday is Election Day. I may be one of the few who is not shoving a candidate in your face. I figure if I can influence your candidate choice at this late date, then God help us.

I'm not telling you who to vote for. Just VOTE. It's your right.

I wish both the candidates a good night's sleep and may the best man win.

Word Count 2906


Yep, I'm slacking. Not intentionally, though. Had to make a trip to Cedar Rapids yesterday to pick up my daughter's dogs (that's Maxwell in the picture) round trip that cost me about 8 hours. I did manage to work out some plot issues in my head while driving up there. That counts, doesn't it.

When I got home I worked on the novel for about 3 hours. Today I will be chugging to catch up. If you use all thirty days in November to write, you have to average a little less than 1700 words a day. I've built in a couple of off days around Thanksgiving, so I've upped my target to 2000 words a day to compensate. So starting out this morning I am 1100 words behind my goal. Off to write.

Thanks for checking in and keep that encouragement coming. It keeps me away from the chocolate.

Oh, yesterday I went through Jo dee Messina, Tracy Lawrence, Martina McBride and a partial Kathy Mattea (had to shut it off--somehow the cd got scratched, and it's one of my favorites! Ouch! Sorry Kathy.)

P.S About the dogs, they winter at Grandma's house from November until January. My daughter's schedule is crazy until mid-December. She comes home for Thanksgiving and then for Christmas, so she's usually only away from thethem for about a month total. And it beats having to drive the dogs back and forth for the short Thanksgiving holiday.

Now I really am off to see how much trouble I can get Sissy into today.

P.S.S. If you aren't writing today, how come?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Word Count 1008

typewriter courtesy of texas gurl

I have one of these old typewriters in the basement. Bought it when I fancied myself an antique collector--I'm not. But I'm sure glad I'm pounding away on a Dell and not this monster.

It's 11:00 am. I started about 8:30 and have 1008 words. Actually, I stayed up until midnight last night and entered the first sentence, so eight words were written in the early am. Then I went to bed and slept on the plot. I figured I'd be awak all night with plots lines running through my head, but I zonked.

Can't get on to the NaNoWriMo site right now, so I'm hoping to update my little calendar later today.

I've been through three cd's - Phil Vassar, Sugarland and Toby Keith, a bottle of Crystal Light and a small bowl of pretzels.

Log on and give me a shout of encouragement.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Broom courtesy of irina souiki

I'vd added a few new widgets. Most noteably my word count for NaNoWriMo. I'm not a techie, so we'll see if it works--starting Saturday.

I've also added the RSS feeds widget, so please subscribe.

I'll be adding more as soon a November is over. Stay tuned.

By the way, how many of you are participating in NaNoWriMo?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Warren Adler Short Story Contest

Pencils by phatcontroller

Sharpen those pencils it's time for the Warren Adler Short Story Contest.

Adler is the author of The War of the Roses, Random Hearts and a host of other novels (27) as well as short stories.

Top prize is $1000. The contest ends January 16, 2009 and has an entry fee of $15.

The theme of the contest is pretty open - Short fiction in all of its varied genres.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Looking for a speaker for a writing conference??

Street in Quebec City

Hey, didn't mean to leave the lights off for so long.

October has been crazy. First part of the month, I went on a cruise to see the fall colors in New England and Canada. Instead of seeing colors, we out ran a hurricane (yeah in New England--who would have thunk?) Then our scenic cruising day on the St. Lawrence, it was so foggy we could barely see over the side of the ship. What gives with that?

But the gem of Quebec City was waiting for us. What a treat! If you've never been there, it is so worth the visit. It's not for the faint of heart. There are hills and winding streets, but around every corner, there's a neat little shop or cafe. I can't wait to go back.

The last part of the month I've was busy getting Saturday Writers annual fall workshop lined up. It was this past Saturday. We had a magnificent day. The weather was outstanding. Our speakers were awesome, and it's over. And the best part if next year someone else gets to plan it :)

If you're planning a workshop or conference I've got some names you might want to try. Krista Goering from The Krista Goering Literary Agency was our agent. She did a presentation in the morning and took pitches in the afternoon. She is a delightful woman, very friendly and outgoing. I would highly recommend her.

In the afternoon we had an editor panel that consisted of Anna Genoese, a freelance editor, Dr. Susan Swartwout from Southeast Missouri State University and Rebecca French Smith from Missouri Life magazine. All of these ladies did a great job and again and recommendation from me is in order.

My thanks to all our great speakers for taking the time from their schedule to spend the day with us and share their expertise.

On a side note, my writing friends have convinced me to set the current novel aside for the month while I take Sissy on another adventure. That's what I'm going to do. I've been at this one for almost a year now and it seems like I've read it a thousand times, probably because I have. Plus I need a break because I have this huge new plot line in my head and it keeps distracting me. Once I get it on paper, I think I will be better able to go back finalize my first one.

I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo which starts November 1st. I'm not going to be as active on here, but will be trying to post my results daily and give the rest of you a little pep talk. You know, if I can write 50,008 words in a month so can you. So, freeze up a bunch of meals, buy scads of chocolate, wash up all the laundry and pull up a chair. The writing is about to begin. AND I can't wait.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Synopsis = #$^$^#$*%$#@#$

The Aftermath courtesy of mr. rich

Really. I'm trying to write the dang thing. I thought the query was tough. Piece of cake compared to the synopsis. And I know why I don't like them. Remember book reports. I hated book reports when I was in school.

I always won top honors for reading the most books, but my grade always suffered because of the stinking book reports we had to write. I can even remember saying, "Why do we have to write stinking book reports? It's not like we'll have to do book reports when we grow up." Ha! Little did I know.

Where's the Cliffs Notes for my novel when I need it? Oh wait, I would have to write it, wouldn't I.

A fellow critiquer (thanks Tom) sent me a link to mystery, suspense, thriller writer Lisa Gardner's website where she has a online lecture Conquering the Dreaded Synopsis .

And it's a great link. Lots of great detail, but I'm brain dead. I read it and I know what I supposed to do, but gaaaaa, it just does not compute onto the page.

I know I need to introduce my characters, fill in the plot points and YES.... I know I have to tell the ending. But it sounds like a book report from junior high and no thank you Mr. Blevins for making me write them. Apparently you didn't teach me anything. You should have sttod over my desk and beat me with the book you were so handy at throwing across the room to get our attention. Sorry, I digress--that's a whole nother blog topic.
Back to the synopsis or rather the bad book report. It sounds like Susie did this and then Susie did that and then the bad guy did the bad thing and Susie ... Well, you get my drift. I'm usually not bad at transitions, but I know that's the problem here.

Yo, Lisa, wanna help a sister out? If you love writing the synopsis, how about you do mine? What's one more? I know you're a good sport or else you wouldn't have all the great stuff on your webiste for fellow writers. All you have to do is one, then I'll get the hang of it. I promise! I'm a quick study, but I need to see the real deal in print to be able to catch on.

I'll send you my outline and you whip out a synopsis for me. I'll be your BFF forever and I'll read all your books forever more and give you great reviews (wait that's kind of like a book report. What am I saying?) Okay, I'll read all your books and give you 5-star ratings.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Ribbon courtesy of Yongjiet

A quick aside to my normal posts.

I recently had the opportunity to participate in On Deck for the Cure, a fundraising event founded by Holland America in support of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

I won't go into the details of the walk, but just want to take the opportunity to remind all my female friends to remember to get their annual mammogram and don't forget your monthly breast exams. Early detection is the key to survival.

You aren't too busy to save your life. Pick up your phone and make an appointment.

And for you guys, men get breast cancer, too. So, don't ignore a suspcious lump.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Here's a Contest for 30 and Younger

Money Grab courtesy of Steve Wampler

From Narrative Magazine...

Narrative is calling on writers, visual artists, photographers, performers, and filmmakers, ages eighteen to thirty, to tell us a story. We are interested in narrative in the many forms it takes: the word and the image, the traditional and the innovative, the true and the imaginary.

First Prize is $1,500
Second Prize is $750
Third Prize is $300.

The prize winners will be announced in Narrative. Additionally, ten finalists will be chosen and announced in the magazine. All entries will be considered for publication. (Limit of two entries per individual.)

Read the rest of the guidelines here .

There is no entry fee and entries are due by October 27, 2008.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Too Many Irons in the Fire

The to-do list courtesy of Brian Indrelunas

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. My to-do list is beginning to look like my college thesis. I'm considering having it bound for posterity.

Seriously, I can't scratch an item off the list without adding two more things two it. How's a girl supposed to get anything finished? And bad as that is I only managed to work on the novel a little last week. So I'm back at it this week and gearing up to make the final edits. Keep me on my toes people!

What's your best tip for staying caught up?

P.S. I promise to get back to posting regularly. That's on the top of my to-do-list. Honest. I've also placed stop worrying about my 401K at the top of the list. It's only paper, right? At least that's what my husband keeps saying.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Novel

photo courtesy Thomas Hawk
It's getting down to the wire. I've added several new scenes and a new kiss (and it's a scorcher.) I've also added a new character who is showing real promise of hanging around and becoming an ally to my protagonist.

These walk-on characters are killing me. They come out of nowhere make themselves indispensable and then refuse to leave. I'm not sure what that means. Is my creativity flowing or am I allowing my characters to much leeway? Either way, this one's a keeper.

My goal was to have this thing finished the end of September, but that schedule is sliding a little due to some other commitments. But I'm on track for October. I do have my query letter ready to go and it's a good one, if I do say so myself. I'm working on the synopsis and it's not so good yet. But practice makes perfect. So I'll keep slogging away.

The mornings are starting to get chilly, and I love to open the window and let the morning air ruffle the curtains while I write. This morning I can hear the rooster next door crowing his little heart out. He must be a late sleeper, because it's already 8 a.m. I was up before him. Maybe I should start crowing to wake the little slacker up.

Morning is my favorite time to write, but I don't get to do it often. When I do it's a special treat.

When's your favorite time to write?

Writers Fall 2008 24-Hour Short Story Contest

photo courtesy Chris Campbell

Found this post over on Writers Weekly . It announces their Fall 2008 24-Hour Short Story Contest and it starts this Saturday. The catch is you MUST be signed up before the topic is posted to participate, and it's already 73% full (probably more by now.) Yep, you read that right. You sign up and then you get the topic. And you only have 24 hours in which to write the story. How fun is that?

The prizes are awesome.

1st Place $300
2nd Place $250
3rd Place $200

The entry fee is only $5. Click here to register online.

The clock starts ticking Saturday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

P.S. I promise to tell you how the novel is coming along


Photo courtesy summervillain

Contest for the 8-18er's

Courtesy of anyhoo

This one has a long lead time. Entries aren't due until March 30, 2009. The Listen to a Life Contest is an awesome opportunity for the younger generation to connect with a member of the older generation (gulp! That's me.) The whole premise is for the young person to interview the oldster (parent, grandparent, friend of family, aunt, uncle, the list is endless) about their dreams and how they achieved them or advice they would offer. Or maybe how they overcame obstacles.
After the interview the young person writes a 300-word essay based on the interview.

The site even offers tips and sample interview questions. If that's not enough they even provide a link to winning entries from last year.

What are the prizes you ask... That would be here.

Sponsored by lenovo and Orchard Software.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

18th Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors' Prize Contest

Big Money courtesy of LiZPhoToArt

There's still time to enter the 18th Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors' Prize in Fiction, Essay and Poetry. The Missouri Review will again be offering over $9000 in prize money along with publication in the magazine. The deadline for submissions is October 1,2008; winners will be announced in early 2009. See contest guidelines for additional information.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dog Stories- A Call for Submissions

Matisse - My daughter's little con artist

1000 words or fewer flash fiction pieces -
Dogs: Wet & Dry - A Collection of Canine Flash Fiction.
These stories will run from humorous to heartfelt to quirky.
The topic range is open: from dog rescue, training, and adoption to companionship, communication, and behavior.
Accepted pieces will receive $50 when the book is published, plus one copy of the anthology.
Send submissions (please, no profanity or animal abuse) in the body of the e-mail along with a short bio (100 words or less) in third person to:
Submission period - 9/15/2008-12/1/2008
Deadline: 12/1/2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Margo Dill Interview

Check out The Differently-Abled Writer for an interview with my friend Margo Dill.

Margo is the Past President of The Missouri Writers' Guild and a member of Saturday Writers.

She is a multi-talented writer, an awesome speaker and a great critiquer. If you need a freelance writer, editor or a speaker, give Margo a call.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

NaNoWriMo -


NaNoWriMo I say. That's National Novel Writing Month and it begins November 1st. The point of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 in a month--a mere 30 days.

Why am I telling you now? So you can plan. So you can figure out what you want to write, and how you're going to carve out time to do it.

Why would you want to do that? It's an awesome process. I did it last year and ended the month with 50004 words, just 4 little words pushed me over the threshold. Since then I've deleted those 4 words and added another 8000. So see my point. In one month I wrote 50004 words. In the last 10 1/2 months, I've only written 80000. Actually I've probably written more than that, because while I was writing the 50,000 I completely tuned out my internal editor. I shoved her in a desk drawer and threw in chocolate periodically to shut her up.

But I digress...

What did I learn from NaNoWriMo? Several things.

1. I'm a linear writer. So it's best for me to go from start to finish and not skip around writing scenes as they come to me. It boggles my mind too much to have to go back and try and weave stuff in.

2. I write better from an outline. My first attempt was a sheer pantser (by the seat of my pants.) And while I like the story, I wish I had created an outline to keep me on track.

3. While I'll write from an outline next time, I won't be so rigid as to have to stick to it, if my characters want to veer off in another direction.

4. I learned that characters do veer off. One of my minor characters in this novel refused to be minor, so she's come out of the background and will be a major player in my next novel.

5. I need a strict writing schedule with scheduled down time. I abolished all extra-curricular Internet activities until I reached my writing goal for the day. Once I did that, I'd check email, chat with friends and surf.

6. I used a timer and forced myself to write in one hour intervals. After an hour, I got up and stretched, got a drink and made wee wee. I know you're supposed to get up more often than that, but I have a short attention span and it takes me a while to get back to work. So one hour was my interval with a ten minute break.

7. I allowed myself days off. I know it caused my daily writing schedule to increase, but I'm not eating turkey at my computer and I refuse to give up my day after Thanksgiving shopping madness.

8. Writing is easer than editing.

9. Yes, you can actually take showers. You don't have to be a slob to make the goal.

10. It doesn't count if you write - I can't think of anything to write. I can't think of anything to write. I can't think of anything to write.

Will I do it again this year? Heck yeah. October 1st, I start my outline. And yes, you can have an outline, but DO NOT WRITE one word on the novel until November 1st. That's a big no-no.

Is there a prize? Yes, the satisfaction of writing 50,000 words.

Is this a big deal? Just ask the NaNoWriMoer's who wrote a collective 1,187,931,929 words last November.

Here's the website. Go sign up.

Tell me, did you NaNoWriMo last year? What was your experience? Will you do it again?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Moment of Silence

photo courtesy: size8jeans

My prayers are with all who suffered as a result of 9/11.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

MWG's Flash Fiction Contest

The Hottest Flash Fiction Contest
Deadline - October 15, 2008
Entry fee: $10
Word Limit 1,000 words.
First Place: $100.
Second Place Winner: $50.
Third Place $25.
Honorable mentions are awarded at the discretion of the Judge.
What is Flash Fiction? It's fun. It's challenging. For writers, it is an exercise in rewriting and editing. It is a short short story. All flash fiction includes the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. The brevity of this genre often forces some of the story elements to be implied or unwritten in the storyline.
This 6-word flash by Ernest Hemingway is an example of extreme flash fiction:"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

Good Luck!
Questions? contact Contest Chairman, Judith Stock at

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Saturday Writers "Turn the Page" Workshop

Photo courtesy of: Kateyay

Saturday Writers Presents
Turn the Page Workshop
Date: Saturday, October 25, 2008
Time: 10:00 am—3:00 pm
Location: St. Peters City Hall—Rm A
One St. Peters Centre Blvd.
St. Peters, MO 63376

Early Bird Registration ends Oct. 1st Members: $50.00; Non-Members $60.00

After October 1st: Members: $60.00; Non-Members $70.00

At Door: Everyone $ 75.00 (NO LUNCH PROVIDED)


Finished your novel or almost have it finished? Have new ideas for a smashing article? Well, turn the page and join us for an all-day workshop featuring Krista Goering, literary agent from Krista Goering Literary Agency LLC, Susan Swartwout, professor, director of the University Press and editor of Big Muddy, Rebecca French Smith, Managing Editor Missouri Life, and Anna Genoese, Consulting Editor for Tom Doherty Associates, LLC..

* The book publishing industry in general and how it is changing
* How agents work
* What information is important in a query letter
* What not to do when querying an agent
* How to write a great nonfiction book proposal
* When it makes sense to self-publish
* How to promote/publicize your book

Bring your first paragraph, manuscript formatted, of fiction or non-fiction work or 10 lines of poetry. Editors will read out loud, preserving your privacy, then comment on what they liked or didn't like, what hooked or didn't hook them. You can bring more than once piece (on a separate sheet of paper), but we’ll only take seconds if time permits.

Sign up to pitch when you register. Appointment will be assigned and
given the day of the workshop. (Attendees only)

Krista will do a limited number of written critiques for attendees for $25.00.
FICTION: First 10 manuscript pages OR query letter and synopsis.
NON-FICTION: Proposal (5 pages max) OR first 10 pages of manuscript.

Email to with the documents in the body of email, or mail hard copy with registration. Attachments will be deleted.
Payment must follow with registration. No manuscripts will be sent to Krista until payment is received. No manuscripts accepted after October 1st

Questions: email

For Registration form or to register via Paypal visit our webpage and click on EVENTS.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Did you go to Woodstock??

photo courtesy of radarxlove

If so, Adams Media is looking for your story for an anthology entitled Woodstock Revisited. The deadline is tight, September 7, 2008, but they are desperatly seeking stories.
This sounds like an exciting anthology. The 60s were such turbulent times--peace, war, free love, riots, the happy face, Vietnam.

Check out Literary Cottage for the call for submissions.

My story is that I wanted to go to Woodstock, but I was 15 and a big chicken. So there. If I had it to do all over again, would I go. Hell, yeah! What's your Woodstock story?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Speaking of Queries

I'm almost at the point where I'm ready to hone my query letter. I've written it a time or two, but I want to polish it up as best I can. Susan McBride, our speaker from Saturday Writers sent me a link to a query article by Holly Lisle . Wow, not only is the article great, but her website is jampacked with information, and she offers a free class on outlining your plot.

P.S. Susan's new book The Debs just made its debut.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Query Shark

I love it. Janet Reid at FinePrint Literary Management is critiquing query letters at Query Shark. Now if I could just find the Jaws music. How fun is that? Probably not, if you've sent in a crappy query letter, but the opportunity to get some advance feedback before you send it on. Priceless.

Janet doesn't promise to critique all submissions, but what do you have to lose. And she only does fiction, so don't send the other ones in or she'll probably chum the water with you. Check out Query Shark for recent query letters she has critiqued and for instructions on how to submit yours. (Remember, play by her rules.)

And Janet, thanks for all you do for us.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors

A hearty congratulations to my writing buddy Alice. You go, girl! Alice garnered her first publication in A Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors for her story "Hidden Treasures."

I am proud to say that Alice shared the story with me longry long before publication. It's a touching story about... Well, you'll just have to buy the book to find out. For each copy sold, fifty cents will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I hope this one is a sell-out everytime it hits the store shelves.

The book contain fifty survior stories. Every one brings a unique voice of hope and courage. And a spirit of determination is evident throughout the book.

Congratulations to my friend Alice and all the authors whose stories lie within the pages. Not just because you were published, but because of your strength, candor and willingness to share your story with others.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Free Writer's Conference

Tired of spending gas money or staying in hotels with lumpy mattresses, try an online conference. Huh? Yep, you read it correctly. The Muse Online Writers Conference is absolutely free (though, they will glady take donations.)

Missouri Writers Guild's own Barri Bumgarner is a presenter along with a host of others.

The conference runs from October 13th - 19th on a computer in your home. Registration deadline is September 1st. So don't delay.

I'm looking forward to this one.

What's your favorite part about going to a conference? Besides happpy hour :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Attention Conference Goers

Agent Janet Reid from FinePrint Literary Management has some tips on her blog for conference planners on how to make an agent more productive and happier at your conference. And if they're happy, we know we'll be happier.

I've always felt bad for agents at the conferences I attend. Not because I am an agent stalker, but there are those of you out there who are. And you know who I'm talking about. I have yet to meet an agent at a conference (well, okay one) who wasn't willing to go above and beyond. The one was just plain rude and no, it wasn't Janet. But I'm not naming names. These poor men and women are on stage 24/7 when in conference mode, even if they aren't up on the stage. Some of them can barely get out of their rooms without people crowding around trying to monopolize the conversation.

If you want to get some good, alone time with an agent offer to be a shepard or drive them from the airport. Offer to take them to dinner (and pick up the tab.) Agents are human and some of them are damn funny when you let them talk about something other than YOUR novel. (Laurie, are you listening? I'll drive you and Lynn around Kentucky any day.)

If you let them talk about other stuff once in a while, most agents will even eventually ask about your novel. Then when they do, give them your pitch and give them an opportunity to ask questions. They know you want to, but don't track them down the hallway waving pages in their face, or scoot your synopsis across the table and under their water glass. Let them breath a little, eat a little and wait for the magic moment when they lean back and say, "Tell me about your novel." That's your cue.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Seven Hills Writing Contest Accepting Submissions

Increased prize money and altered categories are some of the changes made to the Seven Hills Contest for Writers this year.

First-place winners will receive $100; second-place, $75; and third-place, $50.

Essay and memoir categories have been combined and expanded under the heading, “creative nonfiction,” works of factual literary prose. Unlike other types of nonfiction, such as technical writing or journalism, the emphasis in creative nonfiction is on factually true yet elegant literary expression. Submissions in this genre could include, but are not limited to, memoir, food or travel writing, personal essays, new journalism, biography, nonfiction stories and nature writing.

Children’s literature this year is restricted to chapter books or short stories (ages 6-8 or 9-12). The following year we will accept only picture books. The change was made because it seemed as if the two types of children’s literature needed to be considered separately.

All contest entries have a word limit of 2,500 words.

The contest has grown so much they will no longer require detailed critiques from judges, although they will be free to make comments and suggestions to authors if they wish. Manuscripts must be postmarked by Sept. 30.

Please see the TWA Website for complete contest rules and entry fees.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Are Your Phrases Redundant?

When I worked for the phone company, redundancies were a good thing. Not in spoken or written communication, but in our central office switching equipment. One goes down, the redundant one kicks in and takes over. Kind of like a battery back-up. Okay, I was a trainer, not a switching guru, but you get the drift.

In writing, redundancies are a no-no. Was that redundant? I just finished editing Chapter 10 of my novel, and I ran into a couple of places where I repeated myself--completely engulfed in flames. Ummmm. If it's engulfed, then it is completely in flames. but I made a note to go back through my previous chapters and look for phrases where I repeated myself.

Then I found this article by Richard Nordquist on . He points out that sometimes it might be okay to be repetitious in order to clarify a point. For the most part, redundant phrases just bog down the story. And the best part--he included a list of common expressions. I love that. Usually you get one or two examples, but he has an alphabetized listing. I printed that sucker and taped it to my credenza.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Another Essay Opportunity for the Kiddos

Kretschmar Deli is sponsoring a Back to School Essay Contest for grades 5-12.

Write an essay 1000 words or less about "The Most Important Lesson I Learned in School." Check out The Rules and get writing.

The deadline is September 15, 2008.

Friday, August 15, 2008

An Essay Contest for Boomers

The National Association of Baby Boomer Women (who knew) and GRAND magazine are sponsoring a 500 word essay contest. It's call "Sharing Memories from the 70s with the Kids." Ohhhhh, isn't that a scary thought. Basically they want you to tell a story about a specific memory from the 70s you'd plan to share with the kids. Or maybe a memory you wouldn't dream of sharing. (Can you remember that far back?)The deadline is October 31, 2008. And you have a shot at $250 in prize money, free membership in NABBW and your story will be published. What more could you want (thinner thighs, less gray or no chin hairs?)This contest isn't limited to women, so you baby boomer men can submit too.Here's the submission information.Entries should be in the form of a WORD document and sent as an attachment to with "Memories from the 70s" in the subject line.But don't take my word for it. Check out their guidelines Memories from the 70s

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Want to Promote Your Book?

A writing friend, Julie Earhart sent the following information...

hey writers!

here's a great way to generate some interest in your book:

do a book giveaway at

go to the authors section and look for the book giveaway link---here are a few rules:

You agree to supply the indicated number of books on the date the giveaway ends.
Goodreads will list (for free) the giveaway book on the giveaways page.
Goodreads will collect interest in the book, and select winners at our discretion.
Our algorithm uses member data to match interested members with each book.
Goodreads will email you a list of winners, and you are responsible for shipment of the books. Failure to do so will result in us not inviting you over for cake ever again.
You agree to not store the winners' mailing addresses and to never mail anything to the winners except the indicated book.
Winning members are encouraged but not required to write a review of the book they receive.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Castle Rock Writers Conference 2008

Castle Rock Writers announce their 2008 Conference at the Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock, Colorado.

The event is scheduled for September 20th, 2008 from 8:30 am until 5 pm. If you register before August 20th, the cost is $60 per person and includes the keynote address, workshops, boxed lunch, water, snacks and workshop notebook.

Thanks to Alice Aldridge-Dennis for the heads-up.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Big Political Face Slap Goes to...

John Edwards. I cannot even say how totally disappointed I am. John Edwards Admits Affair .

Shame on you Mr. Edwards. Not even because you had the affair, but because you lied to us about it. I know people are human and "stuff" happens, but come on... Did you think you could just sweep it under the carpet? Does the name Bill Clinton ring a bell?

I had so much hope pinned on you. But I can tell you one thing, if you are ever on a ballot that I am voting on, you can rest assured my vote will go to your opponent.

And to Mrs. Edwards. You, my dear lady are a saint. With everything you've been through and are going through to still be able to stand at his side and hold your head high. I salute you.

And to all you future politicians. TELL THE TRUTH!

Sorry for writer interruptus, but I just had to comment. Now back to regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Contest for the Kids

Oh my gosh. Here's a contest for kids ages 7-12. It's sponsored by Mrs. Butterworth (the syrup lady) and Scholastic. The grand prize is a $5000 U.S. Saving Bond and books from Scholastic. Plus the winning story gets published. What an opportunity!

This is something I would have loved as a kid. The savings bond probably wouldn't have meant much to me (What, I can't spend it!) But the books. Wow! My favorite subject in school was reading. And I won the reading contest every year.

My first story was published when I was in fourth grade, thanks to an awesome teacher who saw my potential.

Check out the official rules, and then encourage the kiddies to participate. The theme is "Breakfast with Mrs. Butterworth."