There is lots going on in July!

bloody calendar finalIf you haven’t visited our Calendar page recently (under “When” on the menu bar), we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. We’ve loaded it with all kinds of great activities for writers, including conferences, contests, workshops and more.

This month is especially jam-packed, with “THRILLERFEST” in New York City, Camp NaNoWriMo, the RWA and Writers’ Digest annual conferences, plus a long list of exciting workshops. And for those planning ahead, subsequent months have plenty of craft and related opportunities, too.

Make it a point to check… Continue reading

Things I Have Learned about Writing That Run Contrary to Accepted Practice: Installment #1 — Contests

Go anywhere on the web and you’ll see this warning:

DO NOT 4Everybody’s BFF, “Preditors & Editors” http://pred-ed.com/predlogo100, says:

“We strongly advise writers to enter only those contests without a fee. P&E does not recommend any contests with entry fees.”

http://thewritelife.com/thewritelife3 also pans fee-based contests, saying:

“…often a fee can be a red flag for a scam” and “you may want to… Continue reading

Winning With Flash Fiction

ChinaFlash Fiction or Micro Fiction are terms used to describe a story that is very short, usually under 300 words, although some flash fiction can run up to 1000 words. According to Wikipedia, flash fiction in China is often called Smokelong due to the fact that the reader should be able to finish the story before he finishes smoking a cigarette.

As a writer, I’ve found that working with flash fiction has helped me with my longer work. Because of its brevity, I’m learning to write tight, telling a coherent and… Continue reading

Contests – Love ‘Em or Won’t Touch ‘Em?

I‘ve seen lots of advice on contests. Some people won’t enter them.  Some think they’re great.  Others are in-between.  That’s where I fall too.  I think contests can be helpful but I also carefully consider what I think I get in return.   For that, I have a few guidelines.contest enter

To pay or not to pay.   Contests can be free or require a payment.  My rule of thumb is never to spend money on a contest unless I receive some sort of value back.  I’ve only entered a couple with payments… Continue reading

A Writer’s Journey

Looking back over this past year, I see so much progress in my writing. The first signpost is my attitude. When someone asks me what I do, I tell them that I’m a teacher and a writer. Previously, I thought of myself as a woman who enjoyed writing stories.

Believing in myself is huge, and it happened gradually as I immersed myself in the writing world. I credit my new self-confidence to the people in my writing groups. Like me, they aspire to fulfill the promise of an entertaining read for everyone who buys their book.

Each of us… Continue reading

Queen for a Day

When I was little, there was a program on TV called “Queen for a Day.”  It was a reality soap of the highest order — a competition between four women to see who could tell the biggest sob story.

The contestants and host.

The contestants and host.

The winner was seated on a “throne,” crowned, and robed in ermine.

The winner!

The winner!

She received prizes, including whatever she’d specified was her biggest need —… Continue reading

A Change in Direction

This year I decided not to enter the Debut Dagger contest, even though my calendar has been reminding me of the deadline for months.  The Debut Dagger is run by the Crime Writers Association, and is open to unpublished crime fiction writers from all over the world.  I’ve entered it twice – in 2006 and 2013.   I have had the January 31st deadline on my calendar since November and I was subscribed to the weekly competition emails.  Unlike previous years, the realization that the deadline was fast approaching didn’t herald a flurry of activity; there were just too many other… Continue reading

Another Year’s Growth

2014 calendarOrdinarily, the onset of a new year brings on a sense of melancholy. I feel as though I’m losing something that I can never get back. You know, like the song lyrics, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot?” This year I decided to look back on 2013 with a more positive eye and focus on all that I’ve accomplished as a writer.

I was surprised at what I discovered. The most important result of my evaluation turned out to be growth, growth in confidence and growth in skill. In the… Continue reading

How Do You Choose a Writing Contest?

This April, I entered the 2013 OCC Orange Rose Contest. It offered comprehensive critiques by three judges and the possibility of moving on to a select group of publishers and agents. My head spun with visions of literary giants vying for my work.

I plugged away, writing a synopsis, and entered the contest just before the stroke of midnight deadline. And waited. By the second week in July (when winners would be announced), I hardly dared leave my house for fear of missing that life-changing email. And I waited. Finally, hearing nothing, I decided that my entry… Continue reading

To Bid or Not to Bid – On-line Charity Auctions

AuctioneerI stumbled across a blog post for the Publishing Gives Back online charity auctions at the end of last year and decided to participate.   There was a week of bidding, with different agents and editors offerings each day.  Lots of different items were available:  critiques of first pages, query letters, full manuscript review, follow-up calls.  It crossed many genres, including mystery, young adult, non-fiction and others.   Operating much like an EBay auction, I found that monitoring the cutoff time was crucial since there was a flurry of last minute bids… Continue reading