Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Got Flash in a Flash? MWG Semi-Flash Fiction Contest Deadline September 1

The Missouri Writers' Guild, which was established in 1915, is looking for original, unpublished works of fiction for their semi-flash writing contest. Semi-flash is a new term to me, but according to the guidelines, the length should be no longer than 1,000 words.
Writers do not have to belong to MWG to enter the contest. In fact, they don't even have to live in Missouri or the United States, but all entries must be in English.

Deadline: September 1, 2015
Entry fee is $10
First prize is $100. Additional cash prizes and other awards are detailed in the official guidelines
List of winners will be posted on the MWG website after November 1.


The general guidelines are listed below, and her is a link to the MWG contest site.
If you have questions, you can e-mail Judy Stock contest@missouriwritersguild.org
Good luck if you enter! But act quickly, the deadline is September 1. 
General Submission Rules
1. Entries are open to all writers; there is no requirement to be a member of MWG.
2. Entries will be online and must be in English.
3. Entries must be original work of entrant and unpublished at the time of submission.
4. Each work must be treated as a separate entry. For each entry, use a separate cover
sheet/online entry form available at www.missouriwritersguild.org. The cover
sheet includes the entrant’s name, address, telephone number, email address, and
a statement that entrant has read and signed the Terms of Agreement.
5. The deadline for all entries is midnight, September 1, 2015.
6. Entry should be double spaced, with a 1000 word limit, not including title.
7. Entries containing pornography, graphic violence, explicit or gratuitous sex, and
scatological content will not be accepted, nor will entry fee be returned.
8. Fees: Entry fee is $10 per entry. Payment may be made online through PayPal.
If entrants prefer, a check payable to MWG may be mailed to:
Missouri Writers Guild
Attn: Donna Essner, Treasurer
PO Box 2093
Saint Peters, Missouri 63376
9. MWG assumes no responsibility for misdirected entries.
10. May address any subject (except as noted in General Rule 7).
11. If you have questions, email Judy Stock contest@missouriwritersguild.org
Terms of Agreement: Signing states the entrant agrees guidelines have been read and followed.
1. All submissions are judged by independent judges, whose decisions are final.
2. Judges may award up to three places, at their discretion, but will select at least one “Judge’s Pick.”
Entrants whose work the judges submit for Honorable Mention will receive certificates.
For a list of winners, check MWG website http://www.missouriwritersguild.org after November 1, 2015. Winners will also be announced in the MWG newsletter.



Friday, August 14, 2015

The Importance of Transitions - in Writing and in Life

Early in my writing career, my transitions weren’t obvious to my readers. In my mind, I knew where I was headed with a story or an essay, but on paper I didn’t always signal to my reader that something was about to change. Choppy, bumpy, and confusing were some hallmarks of my early works.

After learning about the importance of transitions, I tried to plan ahead and use transitions to make my writing clear, concise, and understandable. 
Just as smooth transitions in writing can help a reader find his way, planning ahead for changes in life is also critical. The past summer has been especially hectic and filled with some significant transitions in my little world.

Earlier this summer, my granddaughter enrolled in an online college course, which required dozens of writing assignments with short deadlines on her part and editing assistance on mine, also with short deadlines. While successfully completing her intensive course, she and I accomplished another important feat. We assisted family members in pulling off a surprise 50th anniversary party for one of my sisters. Also a success!

In the midst of that whirlwind of activity, everyone in our house pitched in for her big move back to her junior year at Mizzou, and her first apartment. Translation: hours of shopping online and numerous trips to several stores, along with packing and repacking and loading two vehicles.
During the move, her brother was a huge help. Not only did he help my husband load up her car and his own SUV and do the heavy lifting by carrying her belongings up two flights of stairs, he also put together her desk and chair.

As my grandson’s summer vacation came to an end, he got ready for his junior year in high school. He’s an easy shopper; we were in and out of the mall in less than an hour, and his entire back-to-school wardrobe cost about the same as his sister’s new comforter set.

The afternoon of his first day at school, we received a call from his guidance counselor that he had been accepted into a local tech school program.
That brought about a major change to his schedule.
Now, he attends morning classes at high school. Then, after a quick lunch break, he rides the bus with several of his friends to the tech school, where he will learn a skilled trade. He loves the outdoors and working with his hands, so he is excited about this opportunity to do something he enjoys that will also provide a promising future.

Transitions -- in writing and in life -- are not always easy, but they can help pave the way to smooth beginnings and happy endings.  

Friday, August 7, 2015

2015 Tuscany Prize Short Story Finalists and Notable Entries Announced

Earlier today I was surprised and thrilled when I received  an e-mail from the Tuscany Prize Committee notifying me that my short story, "The Judas Goat," has been selected as a top-20 finalists for the 2015 Tuscany Prize for Short Story.

According to the e-mail, the prize committee will select ten stories from the twenty finalists. The top ten will receive cash awards and their stories be published in an anthology from Tuscany Press.

Thanks to All Saints Catholic Writers and members of Coffee and Critique, who read an early draft of the story and offered comments and suggestions.

Even if my story doesn't make the top ten, it's an honor to be among the finalists.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

All Write Now! Conference Notes: Janet L. Cannon on "Building Your Writer's Platform"

When I first heard that the opening group session at the All Write Now! Conference at SEMO was "Building Your Writers' Platform," I thought, Oh, no. not that again.
It's not that I don't care about my writer's platform, I really do. It's just that I've read about that same topic and have heard speakers talk about it several times over the past few years. 
But, I'm happy to say I was pleasantly surprised. 

Whoever said "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," was wrong because I learned a few new tricks, courtesy of technology teacher, Janet L. Cannon, who gave an enthusiastic presentation, supplemented by questions and comments from the audience. 

Here are some suggestions which bear repeating:

* Know your audience

* Expand your public platform -- participate in social media, present workshops, win contests, join clubs, attend conferences/workshops, meet agents/editors/publishers and other writers

 * Expand your circles of interest (e.g., gym, church, volunteer activities)

 * Put your writer’s signature on your e-mails (Note to self: Do this!)

 *Make a plan (short-term, mid-range, long-term)

 * It’s okay to fail; if one way doesn’t work, try something else

 * Have a Plan “B”

 * Post questions and engaging content

 * Respond in a timely manner

 * Publish a small collection of your work

 * Focus, but not on sales; overselling turns people off

 * Use photos and videos in your posts

 * Have color wheels or call-to-action buttons (orange is a stimulating color--I didn't know that!)

 * Build relationships; have a circle of writers and friends (I love that the emphasis was on building relationships and not on "networking")

 * Don’t pay for followers (but it's okay to give away free stuff, like books or samples of your work)

 * Use #Hashtags to increase searchability (but your post has to be public, and don’t use too many #hashtags)

* It's all right to mix professional and personal information on your blog or website because your readers want to get to know you

* Show your personality

 * Your attitude determines your success

 * Always be professional, even if others are not (this was repeated three times)

How about you? Any words of wisdom to pass along about building your writer's platform?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Notes from Dr. Susan Swartwout on Writing Talismans

Last Saturday I attended the second annual All Write Now! Conference on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.

The opening keynote speaker was Dr. Susan Swartwout, whose gothic poetry book, Odd Beauty, Strange Fruit, will be available soon from Brick Mantel Books.

During her presentation, Dr. Swartwout spoke with wisdom, grace, and enthusiasm on the topic of writing talismans.

According to the dictionary, a talisman is "something producing apparently magical or miraculous effects."

Dr. Swartwout shared that during her career she was given the talismans of "persistence" and "crap shoot" by two writers, so she wanted to pass along a few talismans other writers can use.

* Write daily. "Don't ignore your muse." No matter if you journal, blog, or prefer another form of writing, find the will, desire, and drive to write every day.

* Write yourself. "Don't try to be your favorite writer." Write what you know, or what you can know, or what you want to learn more about.

* Never stop learning. Read! Reach outside your comfort zone and read works you wouldn't normally read. Enlarge your vocabulary. She quoted E.L. Doctorow, "Start from nothing and learn as you go."

* Spill it! Write as fast as you can. Let your ideas flow honestly. Don't listen to the voice of your internal editor, or your mother, or someone else trying to filter your words on the page. And keep in mind your first draft is your worst draft.

* Take risks. Don't take the easy way by avoiding uncomfortable topics, but also don't overshare. She gave an example of a man who wrote in too much detail about one of his body parts. She suggested keeping a dream journal to record your dreams as soon as you wake up so you can capture the "raw ghosts" wandering around trying to break through your subconscious.

* Write with enthusiasm! She compared writing with enthusiasm to smiling when answering the phone. Write with zest and have fun. The first thing a writer should be is excited!

She wrapped up her talk by suggesting writers use their superpowers for good, because, she said, "Nobody else can do it but you!"

So, how about you? Do you have a writing talisman to share?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

All Write Now! Conference Offers Writing Advice, Inspiration, and Publication Opportunities

I'm excited to be speaking at the Second Annual All Write Now! Conference next weekend, Saturday, July, 11, on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University in the historic Mississippi River city of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Courtesy of All Write Now!
Registration kicks off at 8 a.m. July 11 on the fourth floor of the University Center (pictured at left).

The welcome address and introduction of the faculty begins at 8:30.

At 8:45,  Dr. Susan Swartwout, Professor at Southeast Missouri State University and Editor/Publisher of the SEMO University Press, will give the opening keynote address.

The opening group session starts at 9:15 with Janet L. Cannon, Technology Instructor, who will address the topic of  "Building Your Writer's Platform"

The luncheon keynote speaker will be New York Times best-selling author, Angie Fox.

Throughout the day, breakout sessions will cover a wide range of topics, such as: fiction, poetry, prose, personal essays, newspaper writing, children and YA, romance, networking, book cover design, and much more.

Breakout speakers include:
Eileen Dryer, New York Times best-selling romance author.
Dr. Allison Joseph, Associate Professor and Director of SIU-C Creative Writing Program
Bob Miller, Editor of Southeastern Missouri News
Margo Dill, Children and YA author and editor
Ellie Searl, Publishta and book designer
Catherine Rankovich, author, editor and teacher
Donna Volkenannt, writer, editor, and teacher

Afternoon pitch sessions feature the following publishers:

Amphorae Publishing Group, (which includes Blank Slate Press, Walrus Publishing, and Treehouse Publishing Group), with Kristina Blank Makansi, Lisa Miller, and Donna Essner

Brick Mantle Books/Open Books Press, Pen & Publish with Jennifer Geist

Deadly Publishing, LLC, with Sharon Woods Hopkins and Bill Hopkins

Rocking Horse Publishing, with Robin Tidwell

Conference co-chairs Mary Rechenberg and Donna Essner have done an excellent job planning and organizing this special event, along with Marcie Upchurch, who interviewed speakers for the blog; Laura Luttrell, who served as contest coordinator; and Janet L. Cannon, who designed their spectacular website. These women and everyone else involved with this conference are definitely first-class professionals!

The All Write Now! conference also features door prizes, contest announcements, and a mystery grand prize.

For complete details, visit the All Write Now! Conference website.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

News from the World of Publishing . . . THE HAPPY LIFE OF PRESTON KATT by J. J. Zerr

Congratulations to Jack Zerr, one of my critique group writing pals!

If you look closely at the photo on the left, you'll notice three things:

The smile on Jack Zerr's face
The logo on his tee-shirt that says, "I love the smell of jet fuel in the morning."
The copy of his latest novel, "The Happy Life of Preston Katt."

Recently Jack generously handed out copies of his novel to members of the Coffee and Critique writing group, and I read my copy right away.

Zerr's military fiction novel, which opens on the Island of Oahu on December 7, 1941, is the story of Seaman First Class Preston Katt's heroic adventures during World War II.

As the story unfolds, we learn about the daily grind of Navy life, as well as Katt's struggle with guilt and insecurities and his strong and sustaining faith.

As a Navy combat aviator and Vietnam veteran, Zerr writes with authority and compassion. His vivid writing, strong characterization, and attention to detail make The Happy Life of Preston Katt a compelling read.

If you would like to read my complete review of Jack's latest novel, visit the Coffee and Critique blog.