LF: The first writing contest I ever entered was at our local bookstore and I won first place. That gave me confidence to enter other contests. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to enter contest through writing groups—Ozarks Writers League, Columbia Chapter of the Missouri Writers’ Guild, and the Missouri Writers Guild—and won prizes from each of them. I was thrilled to win the 2010 Best Book of the Year Award from Ozark Writers League for Early Onset Blog: Essays From an Online Journal. I accepted the other awards I won that night with dignity, but I jumped, hopped, and skipped forward to accept the Book of the Year award! Winning contests is not about the money for me, it’s about validation, especially on those days when my writing doesn’t measure up to my vision of the story.
DV: Wow! Winning Best Book of the Year is an impressive accomplish. Now, a question about publishing: With all the changes in the publishing industry, what inspired you to start Mozark Press?
LF: Not every author can find an agent or sign a contract with a major publishing company. The Shaker anthologies give authors a place to submit short stories for publication. I hope that Mozark Press opens doors for talented authors to see their work in print.
DV: That is so generous of you. I was fortunate enough to have one of my short stories included in Shaker of Margaritas: Hot Flash Mommas. The cover is wonderful and all the stories are great. What has been the response to this anthology?
LF: I’m pleased with the response to Hot Flash Mommas, especially since it was Mozark Press’s first anthology. My expectations were to break even and (yay!) we actually made a small profit. Some of the authors turned out to be fantastic at promotion and sales. Their enthusiasm was contagious. Everything worked for the book—attractive cover, great stories, and promotion from authors, bloggers, and the authors’ local media.
DV: It's wonderful that your first anthology was so successful. You have a submission call-out for a new anthology with a deadline of March 1--Shaker of Margaritas: Cougars on the Prowl. What is the focus of the anthology, and what kind of submissions are you hoping to receive? Where can writers find specific submission guidelines for Cougars on the Prowl?
LF: Cougars on the Prowl will be a fun anthology geared toward “women of a certain age.” I want submissions to tell a great story with a boomer aged protagonist and a younger man. I would recommend that writers don’t go for the obvious, but dig deep to pull off the unusual. The “cougar” portion of the story might be peripheral rather than the focus of the story. The complete guidelines can be found at http://www.mozarkpress.com/.
DV: I imagine you receive tons of submissions for your anthologies. What are some common mistakes you see in submissions?
LF: Among the common mistakes: stilted dialog, not enough dialog, too many characters for a short story, and sentences and paragraphs that do not flow. A lot of errors can be caught when the writer reads the story aloud. I appreciate authors who use one space at the end of sentences (not two) and paragraph indentions rather than tabs. The less time I spend formatting, the more time I have to edit.
DV: Thanks for that advice. Any other tips for writers who submit to Mozark Press?
LF: First, make sure you follow the guidelines. Have another author give you an honest critique of your story. Don’t send me your rough draft—write, re-write, and edit. One of the judges asked me to tell the writers to proofread, proofread, proofread. Here’s a clue—I don’t edit before I send the stories to the judges.
DV: I agree that getting another writer's opinion is so helpful. Beyond your most recent call for submissions, do you have any plans for more anthologies?
LF: I plan to have more Shaker anthologies in the future. They are a lot of fun and it is a pleasure to work with the authors.
DV: That's good news! As an author with a story in your first anthology, I have to say it was a pleasure to work with you. How can readers and writers contact you for more information?
Thanks again, Linda, for taking time from your busy schedule to visit Donna's Book Pub. I hope you get lots of wonderful submissions for your future anthologies.
Shaker of Margaritas: Hot Flash Mommas is available from Amazon and Mozark Press.