Monday, November 28, 2011



Writing contests are a good way to hone your craft.

I've entered a few poetry and fictioncontests, back when I had a second job that gave my bank account some breathing room. I only entered the less expensive ones, with $5 to $10 entry fees, and I especially liked the ones that included feedback. Did I ever win? No. One of my fiction pieces made it to the second round of finalists, though. I was pretty happy I had made it that far.

There are tons of contests out there. Most charge a modest entry/reading fee, but there are still some free ones around. The free contests usually offer a critique or publishing, in lieu of a monetary prize. But hey! That's still a great prize!

I've gathered a few contests for you all to try your luck. Click on the links for guidelines.


Toasted Cheese 11th Annual Dead of Winter Contest
Theme-Skull and Bones
Word Limit-2000-3000 words
Horror Genre
First Prize-$35.00 Amazon gift card
Deadline-December 21, 2011


Winning Writers Wergle Flomp Humor Contest
Humor Poetry
Any Length
First Prize-$1500.00 plus publication on
Deadline-April 1, 2012


There Is Hope Magazine Writing Contest
Articles on how everyday people overcome obstacles, achieving personal victories in their lives.
Word limit-200-750 words
First prize-$500.00, a photo shoot, and 5 free copies of the magazine.
Deadline-March 1, 2012

Transitions Abroad Narrative Travel Writing Contest
Articles about travel
Various Themes
First Prize-$500.00 plus the article will appear on their website and Web Magazine.

Children's Fiction:

Pockets Annual Fiction Contest
No set theme
Word limit-750-1000 words
First Prize-$500.00 plus publication in the magazine.
Starts- March 1
Deadline-August 15

These contests are free to enter, so why not enter one or even all of them? Hey, you never know...but just remember:
"The real contest is always between what you've done and what you're capable of doing. You measure yourself against yourself and nobody else."--Geoffrey Gaberino
Good Luck!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Stuffed Turkey

The third Thursday of November is set aside for all Americans to give thanks. It's a holiday when we teach our children about the Pilgrims who settled here over 500 years ago, and who jointed with Native Americans for a huge feast and gave thanks.

Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends and remember just how much we have to be thankful for. AND spend a whole day preparing food, watching football, consuming said food, and then taking naps. Lol. But all of that IS something to be thankful for.

Our family no longer celebrates this holiday together in a big way. We are all scattered around the eastern seaboard, and I haven't spent a Thanksgiving with my daughter since 2007, but we are all very thankful for the joys and blessings in our lives. Our accomplishments, our homes, our jobs, our material possessions, and most of all , the love we share with family and friends.

I hope you and yours have a moment to experience that wonderfully warm feeling of gratitude at some point today. I know I will. I'm thankful for so much, including all of you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"The Outlander Series" by Diana Gabaldon (Book Thoughts)

I'm a fan of series books, but they need to hold my attention. Sandra Brown's Alphabet series, and James Patterson's Alex Cross series are a few of my favorites. Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series is my all-time favorite. They are laugh-out-loud funny and there's always a chance Stephanie and Joe will have a fight and end up with Ranger.

Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series is my new favorite. A customer recommended it to me when she heard about my YA novel, which is partly set in Scotland.

Outlander cover 2001 paperback edition.jpg

I honestly didn't have high hopes for the book because I know books are such a personal preference. What one person loves could be another person's idea of fire kindling. No. I'm just kidding. I would NEVER use a book as kindling! Even so, I always consider a recommendation because, hey, you never know.

Well, I'm on the fourth book, Drums of Autumn, and I love this series!  I would be farther in the series had I not intermingled other books in between. Doing so, keeps me from series-burnout. BUT if I were stranded on a desert island, I would bring the whole series with me because I could see myself reading these over and over.

Anyway, Outlander starts post WWII. While Claire, a British nurse during the war, and her husband, Frank, a historian, are on their long overdue honeymoon in Scotland, she discovers a stone circle. The circle transports her back to 18th century Scotland. Cool, huh?

While there, her life is filled with action, adventure, intrigue, and yes, romance. Not the sappy, love at first sight, kind of thing. No, no, no. Claire is torn between already being married to Frank in the future and marrying Jamie, (a very large, very young fugitive) in order to save her life.

Diana Gabaldon's series is full of history. The kind that makes you want to learn more about. The romance between Claire and Jamie is the kind that makes tears spurt from your eyes, as you wonder if your significant other feels that way about you. Sigh.

But anyway, I am definitely recommending this book to all of you. Pick up the first book, "Outlander," give it a shot. By the way, she is also featured on the cover of this month's Writer's Digest.

Let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Virtues of A Writer Part II

The next virtue in the Chinese Morality of Deed is:

Fleur De Lis
Loyalty--The act of binding yourself (intellectually or emotionally) to a course of action.
"No more important duty can be urged upon those who are entering the great theater of life than simple loyalty to their best convictions."Edwin Hubbel Chapin
Writers are both intellectually and emotionally bound to their work. A novel's first draft could take from 30 days and up, to complete. Then, comes the rewriting, revising, and editing. After that is market researching, submitting, and sometimes, more rewriting, before the novel ever goes to print. there is also networking, promoting, and all the while, we must keep writing more.

That's a whole bunch of 'ings' and that takes a whole bunch of loyalty to that course of action--writing.

Which leads us to the next Morality of Mind:

AYA Adinkra Symbol Large Framed Print
Endurance--The act, quality, or power of withstanding hardship or stress.
If there is one thing all writers must have, it's endurance. Writers need to make money, run households, raise children, care for pets, do laundry, pamper significant others, prepare food, pay bills, clean the house, heck! Writers have lives! But still, we want and need to write, rewrite, revise, edit, research, submit, network, promote, and continue writing.

Without endurance, writers would never become authors.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNoWriMo Recipe

Blueberry Dumplings

In a large bowl, mix:

30 days of determination
4 weeks of creativity
1/2 c. outline
1/4 c. plot
a pinch of selfishness

In a separate bowl, mix:

1/4 c. laughter, romance, intrigue, horror, or mystery.

  • With a big hook, mix ingredients until a stiff dough forms. Sprinkle generously with desired number of characters, and roll out onto a 12-font, double-spaced board.
  • Knead for 1,667 words daily, allowing dough to rise a little each day.
  • Place in a large pan, well-coated with positivity.
  • Bake at room temperature until dough reaches 50,000 words, or when done.
  • Enjoy with a warm beverage of satisfaction and accomplishment.
You're halfway there!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Virtues of A Writer Part I

A virtue is a positive trait or quality deemed to be morally excellent. Virtues are valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Almost every culture has their own set of virtues. For example, the Romans had a list of nineteen and the Chinese have ten, divided into two categories, Deed, and Mind.
For the next few weeks, I'd like to talk about the Chinese Martial Morality. I will take one virtue from each category and talk about how it pertains to the writing community that I know and love.

The Morality of Deed

The Shy Maiden

Humility--The quality or condition of being humble.

Most writers I am acquainted with are quite humble. I'm sure, there are some braggarts in the writing community who like to act superior as soon as their name and work are published, but the writers I know are grateful and gracious upon publication. Sure, we all like to celebrate our accomplishments, and want to shout them from the rooftops, but for most of us, the entire process is usually humbling. I also find that most writers are so humble, they have a tough time with marketing and writing bios.

The Morality of Mind

Memorial Wall Text

Courage--The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.

Writing is personal. Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, or memoir, writers put a little piece of themselves on paper. Sometimes it's our innermost thoughts, worlds we create, or strange subjects that intrigue us. Whether trusting a critique group to read our work, submitting to a publisher, and especially re-submitting after rejection, writer's are a very brave group.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Spreading The News--Scintilla Press & Publishing Syndicate

This week, I have two great markets for you to check out. The first one up, is:

The word, scintilla, means, "spark of inspiration," and the first issue of this liteary magazine is quite inspiring. See it here: Report from the End of the Twentieth Century

Scintilla Press is an independent publisher, and as of this time, they are a non-paying market. Their magazine will be digitally published twice a year, in the summer and winter, with a bound volume printed yearly. They are hoping to expand into books.

They are currently accepting fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and visual work.

Check out their guidelines under Submissions and be sure to follow them on Twitter and on Facebook

The second market I have for you this week, is:

Publishing Syndicate needs non-fiction stories for their two newest anthology series, "Not Your Mother's Book...On Being a Woman," and "Not Your Mother's Book...on Girls' Night Out." They also have 26 more titles waiting for stories, and that's only for the "Not Your Mother's Book..." series. And guess what else? They offer royalties for accepted stories!

"My Story is Out" and "OMG! My Reality!" are two other series currently looking for stories.

Publishing Syndicate also offers a free WoW Principles e-newsletter that offers tips, markets, and more to help us become better writers.

You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo Helpful Hints

Today is November 3rd, and National Novel Writing Month is in full swing. Thousands of people sat down at their computers Monday at midnight and began their novels.

Never heard of it? Every year in November, hosts this spectacular event. Thousands upon thousands of people from all over the world, sit down and write. Not for one night, or even a week. We're talking about 30 days of literary abandon. The goal? 50,000 words, or the equivalent of a short novel, before midnight on November 30th.

Not only is this a personal feat, groups of people (which you can sign up to join) from towns, states, writing groups, etc. compete for total word counts. There are forums where you can socialize online, but be careful, they are a distraction. There are even get-togethers at local libraries and coffee shops, kick-off parties and wrap-up parties for those who desire human contact while they write.

What do you win if you manage to reach the 50k word goal in 30 days? Well, you get a big congratulations from the site, along with a badge to display on your facebook page, your website, or blog. Createspace also offers to have your manuscript printed and bound in rough draft. You'll get an amazing sense of accomplishment, AND a really sloppy, totally unorganized first draft of a novel. Don't worry, you can revise later.

There are over 100 Published NaNo Novels listed on their website!

In 2009, I completed the first draft to a novel. (still unrevised and untitled) In 2010, I participated, but couldn't quite finish. For a split second, I thought about doing it this year, but since I'm already deeply involved with my YA novel, I couldn't fathom starting another until this one is completed. Not to mention, I have a gazillion other projects, that have nothing to do with writing, going on in my life.

Since my next 30 days and nights are a little less stressed than those of you actually participating, I thought I would pass along a few tips that I've learned. If you aren't participating this year, but are thinking of trying it in 2012, you'll be prepared.

  • To reach 50,000 words in 30 days, a writer must write at least 1,667 words a day. Broken down like that, it doesn't seem so bad, right? But you must be diligent. Even if you go over the daily goal, don't take a day off from writing. You'll be sorry at the end when you're trying to catch up. Keep writing. Every day.
  • Before starting, it may be helpful to make a rough outline of your novel. The idea is to type by the seat of your pants and write whatever comes to mind, but it's helpful to have some idea of where your novel is going. 
  • Do not revise while typing. Nobody else, but you, will see this draft. Tape a thumb tack with the pointed side up, to your 'backspace' key. Do not let the editor inside you waste time by backing up and fixing anything. The thumb tack will help drive the 'point' home. Haha! Get it?
  • Turn off 'spell-checker' on whatever program you're using to write your manuscript. Those ugly red and green squiggles under your words will taunt you to play editor.
  • Stay away from the Internet until you type your daily goal of 1667 words. If you need to research something on Google, you can do it during revision.
  • If you like music while you write, make up a play list of your favorite creativity music.
  • Find other friends or family members to write with you. It's motivating and you can keep each other inspired.
  • Most importantly, have fun!
So, if you aren't participating this year, why not think about trying it next year? And if you are one of the thousands of people knee-deep in  the festivities-- What are you doing here? Get back to work! Lol.