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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Study Writing Abroad in Brazil

The Swansea, IL Rotary Chapter is looking for professionals between the ages of 25-40 to participate in an exchange program with Brazil.

Five candidates will travel, all expenses paid, to Brazil from April 4-May 4, 2008. A similar team from Brazil travels here for the exchange. The only fees the participant pays are for a passport and any necessary medical exams. You must not be related to a Rotarian.

When you arrive in Brazil, you spend time learning about Brazilians in your profession. Local Rotary Clubs also wine and dine participants. The deadline for applications is August 16, 2007.

If you are interested in an application, email me at, and I will put you in touch with the Rotary Chapter. They can send five people and will select from all those who apply. Only a few people have applied so far.

I know it sounds almost too good to be true, but they have trouble finding people who can leave for a month to travel. Alas, I am related to the Rotarian who asked me if I knew anyone who might be interested, or I'd be brushing up on my Spanish right now!

Monday, July 30, 2007

5th Tuesday for Coffee and Critique

FYI - We don't offically have a meeting scheduled for tomorrow, but several of us will be there to work on writing projects from 10 a.m. - noon. Stop by if you're available and want to critique.

Seeking Personal Stories at Common Ties

I've mentioned this website before, but I thought I'd update you on their requests for new topics. Common Ties is looking for true stories about the following subjects:

The Great Depression (July 31)

Racism and prejudice (August 7)

Random acts of kindness (August 14)

Humor (August 21)

The deadline for submitting on that subject is listed after each topic. For submission guidelines, check out their main site.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Call for Stories- 50 States Project at Ballyhoo Online

The literary journal Ballyhoo is considering essays for their Fifty States Project. One story will be chosen to represent each state in the U.S. They are still accepting submissions for all states except: New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Ohio, California, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Indiana. Check out their submissions page for more information.

The focus of the stories is the people and culture of the state, and each story should be 5,000 words or less.

The deadline is October 31, 2007. It doesn't look like there is any payment - just a writing clip and that literary glow from being published in Ballyhoo.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Congrats to Pat!

July's ByLine Magazine awarded her third place for Flash Fiction ($20) and an "Honorable Mention" for a Summer poem.

Keep up the great work.

First Chapters Romance Writing Contest at

Starting August 1, 2007, is hosting a romance writing contest. Authors publish the first chapter of their finished romance on the site, and the website's readers vote for their favorite. The winner gets a publishing contract and a $5,000 advance from Simon and Schuster. is a site aimed at letting people discuss what's on their mind. Sort of their version of the watercooler on the internet. You must join the site to compete, but there is no charge for signing up.

They just finished their first fiction contest, and the publisher awarded two publishing contracts instead of the one guaranteed by the rules. There were some concerns about unfair voting in the first competition, but they say they've taken measures to prevent shady practices this time.

They also hint another First Chapters contest is coming, probably in another genre, so stay tuned for announcements. Remember, the contest doesn't start until August 1. You can enter until August 22, 2007.

Definition of Platform for Non-Fiction Authors

Many of you attending conferences in the last few years have heard the term platform. Essentially publishers want you to have a built-in audience to sell your book to before they accept it for publication.

BookEnds LLC has a great definition of what that means to publishers on their blog today. So if you have a non-fiction project, start building your platform.

The Business of Writing

Just a reminder about this month's meeting of Saturday Writers. On Saturday, July 28, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., a panel will discuss "The Business of Writing" during the monthly meeting of Saturday Writers. Panelists include a web designer/marketing whiz, an accountant, and a bookseller. Meeting will be held at the Community and Arts Center off of Mid Rivers Mall Drive in St. Peters. Details are on Saturday Writers web site

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tips on Writing for the Web

Mindy McAdams at the University of Florida has compiled a style guide for writing on the web, so if you're considering jobs with websites and newsletters, check it out.

Some of her tips include writing shorter paragraphs than those used for print sources - web readers don't like large blocks of text. You should also embed hyperlinks naturally in your writing as I did above. Avoid writing things like "click here" because it adds words with no added content.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harlequin Romance Writing Contest

Harlequin is hosting a contest that asks romance writers for a ten page scene that shows the central emotional conflict between their hero and heroine. Check out the rules for more information. No entry fee!

The deadline is October 31, 2007. Three people will win a detailed editorial review from the editors and possibly a request for a full manuscript to evaluate for publication.

Literary Agencies that Accept Email Queries

Thanks to literary agent Kristin Nelson for her list of agencies that accept email queries. If you want instant gratification, polish your book's query letter and consult this list at Backspace, a website that advises authors on the big bad world of publishing.

Monday, July 23, 2007

New Baby Boomer Magazine Launches

ELDR is a new magazine aimed at affluent baby-boomers. The article on their debut has lots of information on what type articles they want. Keep an eye out for their writer's guidelines, or check out their website for editor contact information.

Goodbye to Harry Potter - No Spoilers

We were there. The last Harry Potter Party. We went to the Grand Hallows Ball at Borders to say goodbye to Harry and his friends. My son is now the age Harry was when he entered Hogwarts for the first time. I started reading the books with my daughter when she was about eight. I loved them as much as she did. Now she is thirteen and she was slightly embarrassed to be there. But most of the kids in line were her age or older, and she'd read the entire book by Saturday night. She then stalked me until I finished it so she could discuss the ending.

I hope J.K. Rowling decides to create more books. But I also hope she doesn't. It will be hard to transfer loyalties to other characters, but it will be even harder to give up the magic in the books. Here are some pictures of the night and my own little Harry Potter, complete with face-painted lightning scar.

Writing for the Web

Take a minute to read The Electronic Writer on MomWriters by Kyle Looby. It suggests five ways to find writing jobs for ezines and newsletters. It has lots of links, but some don't work because it's an older article (2000). But his five tips for finding web jobs are still great.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Cup of Comfort Calls for Divorce Stories

A Cup of Comfort needs stories for:
  • A Cup of Comfort for Spouses & Children of People with Alzheimer's, deadline October 15, 2007
  • A Cup of Comfort for Divorced Women, deadline December 31, 2007

Check out their submissions page for guidelines. You'll need to scroll down a bit to find these two listings.

Less than 10 Spots Left for Grayson Workshop

Margo Dill sent this reminder about the Grayson's workshop next month. Go to the Saturday Writers website for information on how to sign up. Fewer than 10 spots are available.

Saturday Writers, St. Louis Writers’ Guild, and Writers’ Society of Jefferson County
bring you. . .

How to Write a Great Novel
Presented by Carolyn and Ashley Grayson, literary agents

When: Saturday, August 4, 2007
Time: Check-in 9:15 a.m.
9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (with one short break to purchase refreshments)
Where: Barnes and Noble—Crestwood
9618 Watson Rd, Saint Louis, MO 63126
Cost: $125 for MWG and chapter members
(Workshop valued at $350)

*For a limited time ONLY this workshop will be open to MWG and MWG chapter members on a first come, first serve basis. There are a limited number of seats (less than 10. There will be a waiting list.)

**For a description of this class, please see:
******EVERYONE MUST PREPAY!************

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Example Magazine Query Letter

I got great news this morning from Fiery-Foods & BBQ Magazine. They will be publishing my article on the horseradish festival (I don't know when, yet) in both the print and online versions which means more money. Yeah!

To say thanks to everyone for the help on my book synopsis, I'm posting the query letter that got me the assignment with Fiery-Foods. I wrote comments in italics about what I was trying to do with each section of the query.

Dave DeWitt, Editor
Fiery-Foods & BBQ Magazine

Dear Mr. DeWitt,

It’s only taken about 20,000 years to create the perfect place to grow horseradish. What’s the recipe? Take one slow moving glacier from 23,000 B.C., add cold winters, long summers, and potash rich soil, and you get the American Bottoms of southern Illinois. This area grows 60% of the world’s sinus singeing horseradish for everything from cocktail sauce to your favorite Bloody Mary mix.

I try to make my opening paragraph sound like a sample lead for the article to get their attention.

I’ll be visiting Collinsville, Illinois, the horseradish capital of the world, for the International Horseradish Festival on June 9-10, 2007, and I’d like to cover this event for Fiery-Foods & BBQ Magazine. Collinsville is also my hometown, and I’m well acquainted with the phenomenal fire and earthy flavor of horseradish.

This is just a basic description of the event, but I also wanted to show I know the subject, so I mentioned Collinsville is also my hometown.

A member of the mustard family, it can be traced as far back as ancient Egypt. The oracle of Delphi declared horseradish “worth its weight in gold.” It flirts with the taste buds in drinks like ale and vodka and fires up sauces, seafood and dips. Its heat can be adjusted to suit any use, and I won’t touch prime rib without it. As Dagwood said to Blondie, “My kingdom for some horseradish.”

In this paragraph, I wanted to show I could include some interesting facts about horseradish for their readers.

Possible Article Outline:
A brief horseradish history, the festival events, festival recipes from the annual contest, interviews with festival organizers and lovers of horseradish, and photographs of: the Horseradish Root Toss contest, the Bloody Mary contest, Horseradish Recipe contest, foods of the festival, and the giant inflatable horseradish root.

Possible Titles: Pish Posh Potash – What Makes Great Horseradish?
Small Illinois Town Celebrates Hot Horseradish Flavor
Not Your Father’s Spicy Mustard – Horseradish

Danita Allen Wood, the Missouri Life editor-in-chief, said to outline what might be in the article and provide some possible titles and/or subheads. The more work we do for them, the less work they have to do, and the better they like the query.

I included what pictures I could provide, and this helped sell the article. When Mr. DeWitt replied, he mentioned he was looking forward to the picture of the giant inflatable horseradish root. Good visuals can really help sell an article, so mention some picture ideas too.

I am a freelance writer and college English instructor from Wentzville, MO. I’ve been published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Suburban Journal, and I have an article coming out in the December issue of Missouri Life Magazine. I would love to share my fiery passion for horseradish with your readers.

I wrapped up here with my bio and pasted the clip of my travel article from the Suburban Journal article into the email with this query. Most places don't like attachments, so I usually include clips in the actual email.


Tricia Grissom

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

"Pitch It Good" From Writer Mama & Novel Query Begins

"Pitch it Good" is a great article on querying magazines. It's featured on the Writer Mama newsletter, Writers On The Rise. So check out some great advice from published freelance writer Abigail Green on how to break into any magazine.

I sent my first query for my novel Zombies Are Forever today. I plan to continue the querying process this week, so if you have time, send positive vibrations my way!


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Challenge of the Week and July/August Meeting Schedule

I just saw a great blog from the agent at Bookends LLC on how important a short, snappy hook is when pitching your book to an agent or editor. She challenged her blog readers to explain their book in five words, or a sentence at most. Can you rise to the challenge? Describe your book here in five words and change.

Here is the meeting schedule for the rest of July and August.
July 24 - 6:30-8:30 p.m.
July 31 - NO MEETING (5th Tuesday)

Aug 7 - 10 a.m.
Aug 14 - 6:30
Aug 21 - 10 a.m.
Aug 28 - 6:30

Monday, July 16, 2007

Don't Do What I Did

So I was writing this email query to Writer's Digest, and I accidentally clicked "send" when I meant to click "save draft." The buttons are right next to each other! Who thought that was a good idea? I usually draft in Word, then cut and paste into my email, but I can't help fiddling with the thing until the last minute I send it. My advice - draft in Word until the very last second.

So the first ever query I sent to Writer's Digest was full of unclear pronoun references and a not-a-reason-in-hell-for-being-there comma in the last paragraph. After I screamed in horror and debated what to do, I emailed a brief apology for the errors, explaining what I had done. I debated about sending a corrected version, but all the advice I've heard says never send a new query letter to replace the previous one. So I didn't. But it torments me still. Sigh. I have another idea for them. Hopefully this query will convince them I am not a dolt.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Literary Food Writing

Do you find poetry in your fried chicken? Essays in your eggs? Short stories in your sauces? Consider submitting to Alimentum, a literary journal of stories, essays, and poems about all things food.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Feeling Spooky? Submit to the Midnight Hour Halloween Contest

If you write for magazines, you often have to think seasonally. Right now many magazines are planning their Christmas issues.

It's hard to think Christmas with the scent of swimming pool chlorine lingering in the air. If you want to get inspired, read some old Christmas articles on the internet and light a pine scented candle to get you in the mood.

Here is an opportunity to think Halloween thoughts. Now where is my pumpkin candle?

If you have a scary story or the inclination to write one, enter The Midnight Hour Halloween Fiction Contest. The deadline is August 31, 2007 and the entry fee is $15.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Coffee and Critique Websites for Writers

Here’s a list of websites our members recommend.
A comprehensive listing of resources for writers, including online writers' workshops and hundreds of links in categories: writer's workshops, genre writing, screenwriting, poetry, historical fiction, newsletters, market listings, movie and book reviews...and much, much more. -- Larry Myles & Teila Shaw
An online fiction tutorial
FWC provides help with novel writing and information on finding agents and editors and getting published. If you are working on a book or a story and need some advice, or if you have just finished a project, but are not sure what to do next, FWC is where you can turn.
Features tips on writing better fiction, articles on improving your writing, writing a novel and getting published, promoting and marketing your fiction and much more!
An ever-changing list of print and online publications that pay to publish personal essays.
From sending a business letter to authoring a children's book, learn all about writing from this collection of informative articles from Essortment.
A daily exercise to inspire your creative muse,
Writing contests, literary contests, poetry competitions, novel writing, short story, and scriptwriting contests.
Freelance writing jobs and articles for freelance writers—includes contests and a discussion forum.
Writing tips for writers around the world—articles and contests
Preditors and Editors is an extensive list of agents, publishers, etc.
If you're interested in freelance writing, screenwriting, playwriting, writing novels, nonfiction, comic book writing, greeting cards, poetry, songwriting, or-- well, you get the idea-- you're in the right place.
Critique Circle is an online writing workshop for all authors, whether they write literary fiction, genre fiction, articles or short stories. Our purpose is to provide a place for writers to give and receive feedback on their work, and thereby learn from one another. The Critique Circle also includes forums as well as helpful writing tools for manuscript progress, submission tracking, character generation and more.
The Flash Fiction Flash is a free newsletter devoted to flash literature 1,500 words or fewer. Each monthly issue includes flash fiction publishing news, flash fiction markets, contests, writer tips, workshop news, and more. (Includes all of the above for other flash literature (e.g., flash plays, haibun, prose poetry, flash memoirs, flash creative nonfiction). Subscribe now for a newsletter chocked full of flash fiction information.
Take a breath of fresh air . . ." That's what it says on the freshare web site. This is an interactive web page that invites the sharing of ideas and perspectives from their readers. It's a news, sports and entertainment site that invites you to participate. Check out their writer's guidelines and then "take a breath of fresh air."
This website has a lot of great stuff just for writers has "How to Pitch Articles" that give you the inside scoop on what specfic magazines are looking for in a query. It costs $49 a year, but it's well worth it. They also have an editorial calendar that shows the magazine deadlines for submitting seasonal or theme stories. is an agent blog that gives tips and insights into the publishing industry.

Websites for classes, festivals, conferences and contests:

Contest from Abilene Writers Guild

From Donna:

Here's a contest announcement from the Abilene Writers Guild, deadline July 31.

This one has a variety of categories, fiction and non-fiction.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

List of Anthologies Calling for Submissions

Poets and Writers Magazine has an extensive list of anthologies asking for submissions on subjects like: "Things I'd Never Tell My Mother"; misadventures with fishing, golfing, surfing, wedding, and cycling; poetry on grief, dogs, and other.

There's something there for everyone!

Mighty River Short Story Contest

Southeast Missouri State University is asking for submissions for their Mighty River Short Story Contest. They want a short story featuring the Mississippi River, the River Valley, or a sister River.

The winner gets $500. The cost to enter is $15 and the deadline is August 1, 2007. They have more details on their website.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Write Direction Writers' Conference 2007

Donna sent out this great info from Chloie Piveralon on a one day writers' conference in Columbia.

The Write Direction 2007 Writers’ Conference is November 3, 2007. The Columbia Chapter of the Missouri Writers Guild has information on the speakers, as well as a registration form for anyone who wants to attend.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Call for essays at Literary Mama

Literary Mama is asking for essay submissions to go in a series of anthologies on funny "misadventures" about: wedding/honeymoon, pregnancy/childbirth, baby/toddler. Submissions can be as short as 100 word anecdotes for $50, or up to 501-800 words for $125.

For more details, check out the submission guidelines on their blog. The deadline is September 1, 2007.

Friday, July 6, 2007

New Search Feature and Lazy Summer Days-Not!

I've added a search box at the top of our blog, so if you are looking for a specific entry, type some key words into the box to find it.

Summer is whipping along like hummingbird wings. I want my summer to be like those Country Time Lemonade commercial with the picnics and the ladies in their flower print dresses. And I love the 20's music they play that meanders.

It's not happening. My kids are about to disown me because I haven't gone swimming with them yet. We went on vacation, but we were on the go most of the time, so I don't feel relaxed. I spent most of the time thinking about what I could write about from the trip.

I think I'll make a pitcher of real lemonade (sorry Country Time) and go sit on my lounger with a book. Right after I finish writing an essay and an article. And some on my novel. And clean my bathroom. It's hopeless....


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Be an Agent's Dream Client

For all of you out there preparing for the day you get your agent or if you already have one, BookEnds, LLC has a fun blog post on what traits make an author a "Dream Client."

Coffee and Critique Schedule for July

Dear Writing Friends,

Now that July is here (another month with five Tuesdays), I thought you might want to check out the schedule for our Tuesday meetings of Coffee and Critique for this month. Here it is:

July 3 & 17 - 10 a.m. till noon
July 10 & 24 - 6:30-8:30 p.m.
No meeting on July 30. (5th Tuesday)

All meetings are in the coffee shop at Barnes and Noble, St. Peters. We talk for about 15-20 minutes, grab a beverage, then take turns reading, followed by critiques. Our readings and discussions have been lively of late, which makes the time fly by.

Also, a few of us have been going to Chili's afterwards, where we talk about writing even more. Everyone is welcome to join us at Chili's, too.

That's about it, other than I hope you all have been busy writing and will bring something with you to read the next time you come to a meeting.

Hope to see you soon,

Monday, July 2, 2007

To Blog or Not to Blog

There is a great discussion on pubrants from Friday on who reads a writer's blog. She says editors read your blog - if they might be interested in buying a project from you. They don't randomly cruise blogs, but they will look if they have an interest in you. So make sure your blog isn't filled with errors in spelling and grammar.

A disturbing note - they sometimes look to see if you photograph well! So if you start a blog, be careful what pictures of yourself you include.

I like what one of the comments said though - if you don't like to blog, it will probably show. So if you find a topic you like to blog about, go for it. Otherwise I recommend a basic website that just has your bio, clips, and basic contact information. That at least shows you have a bit of tech savy they can work with.