Monday, August 31, 2009

Missouri Review's 19th Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editor's Prize Contest

Today in St. Peters, MO: Mostly cloudy, high 71 degrees.

The Missouri Review is offering $15,000 in prize money for the 19th annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editor's Prize Contest -- $5,000 per genre in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. The work of past winners has been reprinted in the Best American series. Each entry is $20. All entrants receive a one-year subscription to The Missouri Review either in print or in their new environmentally friendly digital format, which includes bonus audio content. The deadline is October 1st, and you can enter online or by mail. For details, check out their webpage:

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Ultimate Series Seeking Submission

Forecast for St. Peters, MO: Mostly cloudy, high 80 degrees.

Last month I attended an event at a local library. One of the speakers told the audience about HCI books and a pending call for submissions. The speaker led us through a brainstorming exercise to generate ideas for The Ultimate Bird Lover's book. I scratched out some thoughts about my late father's fascination with birds and even came up with a title, "Backyard Birdwatcher."
Unfortunately, life intruded on my good intentions of writing the essay. When I visited the website I found out I had missed the deadline. My website visit wasn't a wasted effort because I found another call-out for submissions for The Ultimate Christian Living book. Around the same time, I read a blog post about the same call-out on Cathy C. Hall's blog. Coincidence? Maybe.
So, I thought I would share the call-out for submissions with my blog visitors. Publishers are looking for "personal, true stories by and about Christians whose lives have been impacted by their faith." The deadline is October 19. The compensation rates are decent. Even if the Christian Living book isn't something you want to submit to, you can sign up with HCI to receive information about pending deadlines on other planned titles.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Saturday Writers Extended Meeting

Forecast for St. Peters, MO: Chance of thunderstorms, high 85 degrees.

Members and visitors of Saturday Writers are in for a ten-gallon treat tomorrow when Dusty Richards, acclaimed Western Writer and two-time Spur Award winning author, shares his thoughts on "Developing Character and Setting." Dusty has published almost 100 books under his own name and pseudonyms. He is winner of the Oklahoma Writers' Federation Fiction Book of the Year Award and has been inducted into the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame.
The meeting starts an hour earlier than usual--at 10 a.m.--and ends at 1 p.m. at the St. Peters Community and Arts Center, 1035 St. Peters-Howell Road. Click on link for directions.

Prior to Dusty's presentation, as part of our 2009 goal of "taking our writing to the next level," I will give a brief writing tutorial on "Brainstorming." Yikes! I need to brainstorm about what I'm going to talk about on "Brainstorming."
Personal note: Happy birthday to my granddaughter Cari, who turns 15 today! She's growing up so fast--already talking about taking her test to get her permit. Next year, I wonder if she'll be asking for a car?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Family Circle 2009 Fiction Contest

Forecast for St. Peters, MO: Partly cloudy, high 89 degrees.

The clock is ticking on the deadline to submit to the FAMILY CIRCLE 2009 FICTION CONTEST. No entry fee. Entries must be postmarked on or before August 31, 2009, and received by September 7, 2009.

Grand prize winner will receive a prize package including $750, a gift certificate to a course, value up to $610 dollars, a one-year AvantGuild membership valued at $49, and possible publication in Family Circle magazine. Total grand prize package $1,409.00. Two runners-up will each receive $250, a one-year AvantGuild membership valued at $49, and stories may appear on Total runners-up prize package $299.00.

Read the Official Rules for complete details. Good luck!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Meet the Author at the Strange Folk Festival in O'Fallon, IL

Forecast for St. Peters, MO: Sunny, high 81 degrees. Another gorgeous day!

Jodi Caticchio, Chairman, Arts Commission of the City of O’Fallon, Illinois, e-mailed me with information about an opportunity for writers in the metro-St. Louis area. The Strange Folk Festival is one of the Heartland’s largest outdoor indie arts and crafts shows and a FAMILY FRIENDLY event. Festival organizers are looking for local authors to participate FOR FREE in their Author's Pavilion on September 26 and 27.

Authors are invited to sign up for times in two-hour time slots (authors can sign up for two hours, four hours, the whole day, both days, two hours each day, whatever combination). Sign-ups are from 10am-5pm both days.
Authors only get to sell books if they are PERSONALLY there to sign books. No “substitutes” can sell books. Complete author requirements to participate can be found on their website.

The registration form can be filled out online:

This lists the time slots available and will ask for the name of the book the author will be bringing. The local library is handling the sign ups.

Click here for festival information. Deadline to register is August 31. Sounds like fun!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Literary Agent Nathan Bransford's Publishing Glossary

Forecast for St. Peters, MO: Chance of thunderstorms, high 80 degrees.

Last week, Curtis Brown Literary Agent Nathan Bransford posted a thoughtful glossary of book publishing terms (The photo of Nathan on the left is from his blog.)

Bransford's list starts with:

"Advance - The money a publisher pays an author to publish their book. This money is an advance against royalties. This means that the author does not receive additional money from the publisher until the book earns an amount of money equal to the advance (see "earn out"). As long as the book is published the author does not have to pay the advance back, even if the book does not earn out. Large advances are typically paid in installments, such as a portion on signing, a portion on delivery and acceptance, and a portion on publication. Advances range from $1 to $1,000,000 or more.

and wraps-up with:

"Wholesaler - Companies that get books to bookstores, libraries, etc. Unlike distributors, which fill orders for one or a few publishers, wholesalers fill orders for basically everything under the sun. Prominent wholesalers include Baker & Taylor and Ingram."

In the middle of it all he gives an example to a link of a good query letter. To read the complete glossary, visit Nathan Bransford's blog. I visit his blog several times a week because of all the helpful information he generously shares with writers. The glossary is just one gem you will discover on his "gold mine" of information site.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Newport Review Flash Fiction Contest

Forecast for St. Peters, MO: Chance of thunderstorms, high 85 degrees.

Here's a flash fiction contest with a short deadline and a small entry fee. The Newport Review Flash Fiction Contest is open through the postmark deadline of September 1, 2009. Word Length: maximum of 1,000 words. Entry fee: $7 per story or 3 for $20. A total of $300 in cash awards, plus publication for winners and honorable mentions. They do not accept e-subs. Visit their website for complete details.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Alice Muschany, Opinion Shaper

Today's forecast for St. Peters, MO: Chance of thunderstorms, high 85 degrees.

How appropriate is it that this morning, on the kiddos' first day back at school, it rained? Why is is the fact that it rained this morning appropriate to today's post? Read on and you'll find out.

Alice Muschany, a wonderful writer and treasured member of our Tuesday Coffee and Critique group, has another opinion-shaper essay in today's St. Charles Section of the Suburban Journal. If you are a regular critique group member you might remember Alice's charming essay that she read some time ago.

In "Bring on the Rain," Alice writes with grace and humor about her adventure of having an in-ground swimming pool built. To read Alice's essay, click on the title above.

After reading Alice's essay, I say: Bring on the . . . applause!

Bravo, Alice. And here's to an early fall.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

NPR "Three Minute Fiction" August 2009 Writing Contest

Forecast for St. Peters, MO: Chance of thunderstorms, high 85 degrees.

NPR is running another three-minute fiction contest. The deadline for this contest is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on August 25, 2009. This one has a bit of a twist. The story must begin with the following sentence: "The nurse left work at five o'clock."

Winner will be interviewed and have his/her story read on-air during Weekend All Things Considered and will receive an autographed copy of the book "How Fiction Works," approximate value $25. To enter, go to and click on the link "Send Us Your Original Short Story." Stories must in English language and no longer than 600 words. For complete guidelines--there are several others--visit their website.

Thanks to Claudia from Joplin, MO, and Diane from Colorado Springs, CO, for e-mailing me about this contest.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blog Me, Baby

Forecast for St. Peters, MO: Thunderstorms, high 90 degrees.

Each month I feature one or two personal writing friends I want to introduce so others might become acquainted with them, their works and their websites. My two picks for August are Dianna Graveman and Joy Wooderson. Both women are members of Saturday Writers, and I've known Dianna for about seven years and Joy for about five years. In addition to being great writers, they are also good and generous friends.

Dianna Graveman is an editor, a writer, and a teacher. Her fiction and nonfiction stories and articles have awards from the Missouri Writers Guild Awards and the Catholic Press Association Awards, as well as recognition from Whispering Prairie Press, Women on Writing, ByLine Magazine, Adams Media, and other groups. Dianna co-authored of one pictorial history for Arcadia Publishing ("Images of America" series) and is currently under contract to develop three more for release in 2010. Dianna is very generous with her time and talent. She frequently sends me requests for submissions and contest alerts to post on my blog.

Joy Wooderson was born in Durban, South Africa, the eldest in the fourth generation of a prominent ministerial family. At age twenty-one she set off alone for Toronto, Canada. In 1971 she emigrated to the U.S. and settled in Atlanta, Georgia—where she worked for Delta Air Lines as a writer in their customer service area. In 2004 she decided to try another part of the country and moved to St. Louis, Missouri. To her delight, she found Saturday Writers, a chapter of the Missouri Writers’ Guild. Joy is an award-winning writer whose essays have been published in numerous anthologies. For several years she served as the Membership Chair for Saturday Writers, where she was the smiling face at the welcome table for our meetings. Click on the link above to her website to learn more about Joy or her book, Finding Joy: One Woman's Journey Back to Faith.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Superior Scribbler Award

Today's forecast for St. Peters, MO: mostly clear tonight with a low of 65 degrees, but dang, it's been hot outside today.

I'm pleased to announce that Cathy over at Cathy C's Hall of Fame blog has awarded me an award (blush, blush). In accepting this award, I promise to:

1. Pass the award on to five blogging buddies. It was hard to pick five, but I did my best. (See below)
2 Link to the author and name of the blog from who gave me the award. (See the link above to the talented and funny Cathy C. Hall's blog)
3. Display the award on my blog and link to this post which explains the award.
4. Visit this post and add his or her name to the Mr. Linky List at the Scholastic-Scribe's blog. (Okay. The name Mr. Linky List creeps me out, but being an obedient rule follower I did what was asked. If you visit Mr. LL you'll find me as #799.)
5. Post these rules (I like guidelines better) on your blog. (Again. The word "rules" bothers me so I'm calling them rules/guidelines.)
So, here are the five blog buddies I would like to recognize:

**Pat at Critter Alley. Pat is passionate about critters of all shapes and forms. She also is a wonderful writer who posts about markets that accept critter stories.

**Camille at a Day in the Life. Camille talks about stories --- hers and ours. She also has a website "Mommy and Me Travel," where she writes about traveling with children.

**Amy at Three Moons Rising. Amy is a brilliant writer (I don't use that word often) who blogs about writing, her life her family and her thoughts. While Amy doesn't blog very often, when she does it's worth the visit.

***Barbara at the Purple Pen. Barb is a former teacher and member of Saturday Writers who writes about her family and posts some of her poems and slice-of-life essays.

***Becky at Becky Povich. Groove along to the oldies on her jukebox while you read about books, writing, music, and life in general.

Okay. I think I've followed all the rules (err, guidelines). So, if you have some time and are so inclined, please visit Cathy C. Hall's blog and all my blogging buddies who are very deserving of this award.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gemini Magazine Flash Fiction Contest

Today's forecast for St. Peters, MO: Mostly sunny, high 89 degrees. The hummigbirds were zipping between the feeder and the flowers on the front porch early this morning.

Here's a contest from Gemini Magazine (Fiction, Poetry, a Little Craziness and More) that caught my attention. I find the cover (at left) for the August issue a bit unnerving, but the magazine is sponsoring a contest that sounds intriguing: no entry fee, a short word count, an opportunity for a publishing credit--and since I'm a Gemini, well, it sounds like a contest to check out.
The GRAND PRIZE is $100 & publication in the October Issue of Gemini. Three HONORABLE MENTIONS will be published in the October Issue of Gemini. Word Limit: No more than 1,000 words (excluding title & byline). Any style, any theme (previously unpublished). Deadline: August 31, 2009. No Entry Fee. If you don't win or place, your story may be considered for publication in a future issue of Gemini. For complete details, visit their website The Gemini Magazine Flash Fiction Contest
A Bittersweet Personal note: Sniff, sniff. Early this morning Cari left for Half-day Freshman Orientation at her new high school. Walt and I (with Harley on a leash--Michael was still asleep) stood on the front porch craning our necks, trying not to be too conspicious as we watched Cari wait up the street for the bus. She made me PROMISE not to take any photos or follow her to the bus stop. I did make a trip to the end of the driveway to put something in the mailbox where the view of the bus stop is much clearer--but only once! Before the bus arrived, she had sent me three text messages. By the time she got to school my cell phone was buzzing and beeping. In one she wrote she was texting seven other friends, who are all sharing a similar experience. Going from an eighth-grade class of 30 in a parochial school to a Freshman class of 300+ in a public school is a little intimidating. Only a handful from her grade school will be attending the same high school, but I'm sure that by the time she gets home this afternoon she will be bubbling with stories. And by the time school starts for real next week, she will not feel as anxious--and neither will I.
An Exciting Personal Note: Tomorrow I will post an announcement about an award I received from the very generous and funny Cathy C. Hall over on So, stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pat Carr Headlines Saturday Writers' Annual Workshop October 24

Today's weather for St. Peters, MO: Chance of thunderstorms, high 89 degrees.

Mark your calendars for October 24. That's when the Saturday Writers' chapter of the Missouri Writers' Guild will sponsor its annual workshop. This will be a hands-on workshop, limited to the first 50 people. A workbook will be provided so bring nothing but a sharpened pencil and your enthusiasm. (Lunch on your own.) Acclaimed writer Pat Car will headline the event, with a presentation on "Vision, Voice, and Viewpoint." Carr’s twelve books of fiction include The Women in the Mirror, winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award, If We Must Die.
In the 2003 PEN book awards, and The Death of a Confederate Colonel, published by the University of Arkansas Press. You can read an interview with Carr on the University of Arkansas link. Carr's more than one hundred short stories have been published in such notable publications as Southern Review, Yale Review, Best American Short Stories. ForeWord magazine named Pat Carr's, The Death of a Confederate Colonel, one of the top university press books of 2008, praising Carr's economic narrative as being precise and dramatic.

Also on hand will be Regina Williams, publisher and editor of Storyteller Magazine, who will also give a presentation about writing for Storyteller. During the workshop, Regina will take pitches from attendees. Williams will speak in the morning about how to submit your short story, essay or poem to any magazine or anthology. She’ll tell you what to include in your query, and what to avoid.

A Workshop Registration Application and Contest information can be found on the Member Application page.
All workshop attendees are eligible to enter a writing competition, with $150 in prizes. Visit the Saturday Writers Contest page for details.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Essay Accepted by Blue Mountain Arts for Irish Inspirations Anthology

Today's forecast for St. Peters, MO: High 90 degrees, chance of thunderstorms.

It might be hot outside, but I'm feeling pretty cool today after the letter and contract I got in the mail on Saturday. My essay, "Coming Home," has been accepted by Blue Mountain Arts for an anthology tentatively titled Irish Inspirations. You can't see me right now, but I'm doing a happy dance--make than an Irish jig--or maybe a reel. My contract didn't specify a publication date, but I'll keep you all posted. The letter mentioned Blue Mountain Arts is seeking greeting card writers. Click on the link for details.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Opening for English Instructor at Ranken Technical College

Today's weather for St. Peters, MO: Chance of thunderstorms, high 90 degrees.

Patsy Zettler, one of my writing friends and the General Education Department Chair for English, Communications, and Humanities at Ranken Technical College in St. Louis, has an immediate opening for an English instructor. It’s one class, Fundamentals of Composition, taught from 1:05 to 2:25 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She prefers someone with a Master’s in English or Communications but will consider someone with a B.A., who also has a lot of writing experience. If you qualify and are interested, please contact Patsy at the address below for more information, but act fast.

Patsy Zettler
General Education Dept. Chair
English, Communications, Humanities
Ranken Technical College
4431 Finney Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63113
(314) 286-3397

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Real Simple Life Lessons Essay Contest for Grown-ups

Today's forecast for St. Peters, MO: Mostly sunny, high 89 degrees

After our lively discussion yesterday, it's time to write. Here's a no-entry fee essay contest from Real Simple magazine that I found in the Poets & Writers newsletter.

No entry fee, a prize of $3,000 and publication in Real Simple for a personal essay on: “When did you realize that you had become a grown-up?”

The winner will also receive an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to meet with the editors. Submit an essay of up to 1,500 words by September 7. No entry fee.
Visit the Web site for complete guidelines.
Real Simple Life Lessons Essay Contest 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
E-mail address:

POST SCRIPT: Two very savvy writers contacted me and advised that according to the contest rules, by entering you give up all rights to your essay--even if you do not win. So, please read the guidelines carefully! Thanks to Linda and Becky for bringing this to my attention.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Truth in Memoir by Sue William Silverman

Today's forecast for St. Peters, MO: Partly cloudy, high 89 degrees.

Today's guest blogger is Sue William Silverman, who teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her most recent book is Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir, published with the University of Georgia Press. As a professional speaker, Sue has appeared on The View, Anderson Cooper 360, and CNN Headline News.

Sue will be available today to answer questions or comments.

TRUTH IN MEMOIR ~~ by Sue William Silverman

One night, when my family lived in the West Indies, we awoke to loud pounding on the door and found a friend of my mother’s, and her two children. They were bruised, and planned to flee the island while the drunken husband, who had beaten them, slept. My mother and I collected clothes and money, then drove them to the harbor. Arrangements were made for them to slip away.
Now, years later, I want to craft this event into an essay. But what do I factually remember? Perhaps only the mother was bruised—and not the children. Did they escape on a banana boat or did they charter a fishing craft? Was I in 4th grade at the time, or 5th?
Some facts remain elusive. Does this mean I shouldn’t write about the experience?
Memoir, after all, is not journalism. It’s not supposed to be. Just consider the similarity between the words “memoir” and “memory.” So as memoir writers our job is to portray events to the best of our recollections. So-called “facts” are frequently mis-remembered and blurred. No one can accurately recall every detail of a life. As memoirists, we convey how past events felt and seemed, as well as what they mean to us now.
So even if you don’t remember exact details, write anyway! Sometimes, ironically, the process of writing will actually help you recollect those images from the distant past. This happens to me all the time!
Besides, what is commonly called “fact” is frequently difficult to pin down. My interpretation of events forms a reality that is uniquely mine—my truth—how I understand my own life. If my sister wrote a memoir of growing up in our family, it’d be distinctly different from mine.
Yet, of course, it’s not acceptable to knowingly lie or make up facts willy-nilly. That would be breaking the contract with the reader.
It is acceptable, however, to convey your individual version of events. In “Fearless Confessions” I develop the notion of what I call “memory-truth.” Our memories are our truths. And, by definition, memory is subjective. Readers understand this.
Ultimately, writing memoir is giving shape to a life. For example, although I’m never aware of a plot in my real life, while writing a memoir, however, I must discover one in order to thematically unify my story. To do this, I select which details to include, which extraneous ones to leave out. I manipulate time, condense it. I craft real-life details into artistic metaphors. This is not something I ever do in life—only in the interpretation of it.
This isn’t lying. It’s crafting life into art!

University of Georgia Press. Everyone has a story to tell. “Fearless Confessions” is a guidebook for people who want to take possession of their lives by putting their experiences down on paper—or in a Web site or e-book. Enhanced with illustrative examples from many different writers as well as writing exercises, this guide helps writers navigate a range of issues from craft to ethics to marketing and will be useful to both beginners and more accomplished writers.

Sue William Silverman says: “It's crucial to cultivate the courage to tell one's truth in the face of forces—from family members to the media—who would prefer that people with inconvenient pasts remain silent.” Her memoir, Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction (W. W. Norton), is also a Lifetime Television original movie. Her first memoir, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, won the AWP award in creative nonfiction.

Feel free to leave a question or comment for Sue. She will be available today to answer them.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sue William Silverman - Special Guest Blogger Tomorrow

Today's weather for St. Peters, MO: High 89 degrees, chance of thunderstorms.

I'm pleased to announce that as part of the WOW! Guest Author Tour, tomorrow my guest blogger will be teacher and memoirist Sue William Silverman, a faculty advisor at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and the associate editor of the journal Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction.

Sue's latest book, FEARLESS CONFESSIONS: A WRITER'S GUIDE TO MEMOIR (The University of Georgia Press) is fascinating and informative. The book is filled with helpful writing tips and practical exercises. I discuss her book this week on my other blog, A Book A Week.

If you've ever wondered about the line that separates truth from fiction in memoir, you will want to read her post here tomorrow on "Truth in Memoir."
So stop by tomorrow and read what Sue has to say. Even better, post a comment, or ask a question and Sue will be available to answer.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Essay Contest from Random House

Today's weather for St. Peters, MO: Mostly sunny, high 91 degrees.

Here's a fun, no-entry-fee essay contest from Random House. Write an essay of no more than 450 words describing your favorite book and what it taught you about a specific place, event or period of time. Eight Grand Prize winners will have their essay posted on this website for one year, AND will receive one copy of THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY signed by co-author Annie Barrows! Contest ends August 31st, 2009. Click on link for official rules.

This isn't an easy decision for me. I'm not sure I have just one favorite book.

Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V - Interviews with Lonnie Whitaker and Dr. Barri Bumgarner

Here is the second installment of interviews with contributors who have stories in Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V , from Ozark Writers, I...