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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Great Post on How To Approach Writing Contests & Calls for Submissions

There's a great post from the editor over at the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market blog. It's about what to consider before submitting your squirming wet bundle of writing joy in a contest or call for submissions. What does it take to win?

How do I submit thee? Let me count the ways.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Little Reinterpretation of the Classics - Meg Cabot and Little Women

Snort. If you're a writer, you must watch this video by young adult author Meg Cabot. I found it through agent Jenny Rappaport's blog over at Lit Soup.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New Magazine Launch: Whole Foods Market Magazine

According to CNNMoney, Whole Foods, the organic/natural food store, will have a new magazine with recipes, health info, a wine column, beauty tips, and environmental news.

Issues premier in the midwest stores this January. They will go on to appear in the Rocky Mountain Region in March. Active Interest Media is producing the mag. The magazine will be customized according the area it's being sold in to appeal to regional interests.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I Humbly Beg Help of Thee - Need Parenting Quotes

Hello blog readers. I'm working on an article about how parents are starting to think they don't have to be parent martyrs - essentially they can have kids and still have a life. I'm looking for quotes to support this from parents of young children (4 and under).

Dad perspectives would be great. I could use more mom's too.

The Questions
So can you be a parent and still preserve your individual identity and pursuits? What specific things do you do that preserve your identity?

If you leave a comment (I shall kiss your toes in a totally virtual way) please include your state, ages of children, and email me at with contact info so I can prove to my editor you aren't a 80 year old guy yanking my chain. Can't guarantee I'll use your info, but sure would appreciate the help. I need all responses by Thursday. You can comment or just email me.

Bless you.

Second Annual Warren Adler Short Story Contest - New York Fiction

This announcement from Beneath the Cover - The Second Annual Warren Adler Short Story Contest wants fiction that captures what New York is all about. Any story about New York - even if you've never been there. Hey, use your imagination. Are you a writer or what?

  • Deadline: January 15, 2008
  • Entry fee: $15
  • Word Count: 2,500

Winner take all :$1,000 plus publication on Amazon shorts
Five Finalists: Autographed first editions of Adler's books (The War of the Roses, Random Hearts. . . ) A People's Choice winner will also be available for sale through Amazon shorts.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Top Ten Christmas Gifts for Writers

Everyone is asking me what I want for Christmas, so I thought I 'd share some items the writer on your list might like. Forgive me if I'm a cliche, but it's fun to dream. If I won the lottery. . . Christina Katz also has a great list at her site.

1. Sony ebook reader ($250 -300) or Amazon's Kindle ($400.00)

2. Gift basket: paper (minimum 20lbs quality), gift card to an office supply store, pens, small notebooks to carry around and jot ideas, $5.00 gift card to Bread Co/coffee shop with wifi, bookstore gift card, #10 envelopes, 9x12 envelopes, stamps - any combo ($30-?)

3. Subscription to They have how to pitch articles with the inside scoop on magazines and a great freelance job board. ($49.00)

4. Subscription to Lists writing markets and contact info on countless magazines and book publishers (One year is $29.00, two years is 44.99. Or pay by the month at $3.99 so they can see if they like it.

5. Christina Katz book Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids - an outstanding book for beginning writers plus great tips for those already published. She also has a great list of other writing books on her website. (10.19 plus shipping)

6. Writer's Digest ($19.96) or Poets and Writers Magazine ($14.97)

7. Laptop, if you have the funds for such things (they have some great sales at Dell right now)

8. Glimmer Train subscription - great short story writing to inspire the writer within

9. If your writer is aspiring to magazines, an online course at The Renegade Writer would be a great start for the new year (around $120 for a basic course).

10. My manservant, Manolo

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Link to Amazon's ereader Kindle

Looks like they finally have the info up for the new Amazone ereader, Kindle. And . . . they are sold out. Not amused. They say get your name on the list now if you want one any time soon.

They even have a video demonstration on how to use the wireless feature to download books. Pretty cool.

New Magazine Looking for St. Louis Food Writers and Common Ties Seeks Holiday Stories

Deborah Ng posted these two freelance opportunties on her website Freelance Writing Jobs. Love her site - it's a great resource for jobs.

The first one is for St. Louis based food writers for a new foodie magazine. Click on the entry that says freelance food writers - the fourth one down.

In the other notice, Common Ties is looking for holiday stories, so click on that heading for more info. They don't have to be sugar plums dancin' either. They can be nitty gritty holiday.

Gee, maybe I should send one about this Thanksgiving. I'm waiting to see if my father shows up at my house tomorrow since he's arguing with my brother about who is having Christmas. See, I incorporate two holidays into the story. Happy freaking holiday, people.

I do hope your Thanksgiving is peaceful and full of bounty. Not the paper towels.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fiction in February

Crazy busy. Here is a link to guide Ginny Wiehardt's list of fiction contest deadlines coming up in February.

It never occurred to me to actually plan ahead to February instead of writing in a frenzy a week before the deadline. It probably still won't occur to me. My mind is a last-minute kind of place.

Monday, November 19, 2007

New Ebook Reader Launches from Amazon

So today Amazon launches their new ebook reader to compete with the Sony one I've been drooling over. Kindle has $400 price tag and wireless capability that intrigues me. The wireless supposedly works anywhere, not just where there is WiFi. It's like the service a cell phone has.

I must investigate this new development. The article from the Guardian outlines the advantages and disadvantages - including that Kindle is $100 bucks more than the more stylish Sony model. There is no link on Amazon yet, but I'll post one as soon as they put it up. It was supposed to premier today.

Let's get with it Amazon people. We want an ebook reader is because we are an impatient breed. This image not available stuff is simply unacceptable.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Chicken Soup is Looking for Stories About Twenty-Somethings

According to the Apathy Myth Blog, Chicken Soup needs submissions for a book about the Twenty-something crowd. You do not have to be in your twenties to contribute. It can be about when you were twenty-something or the experience of a twenty-something you know.

The deadline is January 7, 2008, and you'll receive $200 if published. Think inspirational. Duh. It's a chicken soup book, so I guess I don't need to tell you that. My twenties were a blur. No. Stop thinking that. I didn't mean it that way. I had two little kids and no sleep. Seriously.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Freelance Writing Jobs by Deborah Ng

If you've never checked out Deborah Ng's webpage on freelance writing jobs, you're missing out. She has a huge list of freelance jobs every day of the week and advice on being a freelancer.

From reading her site, I've discovered you should avoid job listings with too many exclamation marks! They're often scams! Or they want you to work just for clips! Or pay them for their orientation packet! You know where you can put your offer!

I may write like this all the time now! It's kind of fun! Someone turn me off!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Writer's Digest Seek Short Stories for Contest

It's time once again for the Writer's Digest Short Story Contest. You can submit everything online, which I love. I'm an online kinda gal.

Send them your very short story, - 1,500 words or less. The entry fee is $12.

The deadline is a postmark by Monday, December 03, 2007.
First Place: $3,000
Second Place: $1,500
Third Place: $500
Fourth Through Tenth Place: $100
Eleventh Through Twenty-Fifth Place: $50 gift certificate for Writer's Digest Books

P.S. - I promise, I'm going to finish the posts on starting a critique group. Uh, it probably won't be until after Thanksgiving, though. Sorry. Too many projects. Too many papers to grade. It's sad when you look forward to Christmas as slow time.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sneak Peak at Missouri Writers' Guild Conference Contests

The annual Missouri Writers' Guild Conference always hosts a contest for published works from the previous year for members of the Guild. I'll be posting the categories over the next few weeks.

The big news this year is that different chapters/sponsors are also holding contests open to anyone who has registered and paid for the conference, not just members of the Guild. Entries for these contests can be published or unpublished works.

I'll be doing a series of posts profiling each chapter/sponsor contest, as well as the members-only Guild contest.

There are seventeen different contests open to anyone attending the conference. Entries must be postmarked between January 1 and March 1, 2008, so get them ready but don't send them off until the new year.

The first contest I'll cover is for my chapter of the Missouri Writers' Guild, Saturday Writers:

Saturday Writers presents the Flash Fiction Contest: Send us your fiction from 99-500 words. No excessive gore or violence. The entry fee is $5. I will post further details on where to send entry fees later.

Send entries to: Saturday Writers Flash Fiction Contest (Don't start submitting until January 1, 2008)

c/o Tricia Sanders
90 Westwood Trails
Foristell, MO 63348

Update from the Land Of NaNoWriMo by Tricia S.

Thanks to Coffee and Critique member Tricia S. for keeping me updated on her NaNoWriMo progress. This is how she feels about the challenge so far:

I’m thirteen days into NaNoWriMo and have to tell you this is the most exhilarating/frustrating challenge I’ve ever accepted. Don’t believe anyone that says you won’t have time to even take a shower. I do have my standards. Cleaning house is another story. That can wait until December. Glad I’m not having Thanksgiving in Casa Sanders.

I’ve written over 20,000 words—21,417 to be exact. What a thrill. I have two novels sitting on my hard drive in various states of disarray. One I started more than four years ago, the other more than six. Without NaNoWriMo, this one wouldn’t even be out of the idea chute. So thank you NaNoWriMo for forcing me to get these ideas out of my head. Now I won’t have to listen to the voices any longer. I’m hoping those are the voices of my characters. That’s what I’ve been telling myself all these years.

I’ve actually embarked on this adventure with three other writing buddies, and we email encouragement to each other often. So it’s helpful to get on the bus with traveling companions. Because when the bus stalls, you need the extra encouragement.

I had such a stall on Saturday. My plot was boring, and I was mad at my main character, so it was difficult for me to write the scene. So instead of slamming down the cover of my laptop, like I normally would have done, I stopped writing the scene and started brainstorming. I actually wrote out future scene possibilities. I even counted them in my word count for that day, so I’d make it. When I went to bed, I was on target with my word count. The next day when I started writing again, the brainstorming actually helped me finish the scene where I was stuck, plus I actually ended my writing day up 800 words—not counting the brainstorming session.

What have I learned from NaNoWriMo so far? Put down those writing books and write your damn novel. Once it’s on paper, then you can use all the books you want to help you edit and polish your prose.

Tricia S.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Adams Media Requests Hero Stories About Moms and Dads: I'm Holding Out for a Hero

I've posted on these before, but just a reminder:

This is another submission request with a November deadline - November 30th to be exact. Adams Media is looking for stories of mothers (or mother figures) as heroes.

They are also looking for stories with a hero dad (or faux dad) in the starring role. The deadline for this one is February 28, 2007.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Budget Travel Seeks Reader Stories for 10th Anniversary Edition

According to the travel website Gadling, Budget Travel is asking its readers to submit stories for their 10th anniversary edition. The deadline for submissions is December 31, 2007. One submission per person. The Budget Travel anniversary issue will be published in June 2008.

There are several article categories. Some readers will even get $100 to spend in a favorite place - provided they write about the weird stuff they buy. Some readers will be assigned stories they pitch, but other writers can create their own according to these subjects.

They keep all rights, so consider carefully. They don't want established journalists, so this could be a clip for a beginning travel writer. I don't see anything about payment, so ask when you pitch.

Your Special Hometown
A Life-changing Trip
Finding Collectibles
Greatest Travel Innovations of Past Ten Years
Lessons Learned Traveling
25 Reasons You Love New York
Restaurant Recommendations
House Swapping Tales
Pet Travel Tips
Favorite Travel Websites

Friday, November 9, 2007

Contests and Submission Opportunties with Deadlines in November

It is Friday and it is good. Today I'm doing a round up of all the former blog posts (that I can find) with November deadlines. Sweet Father Time is taking is scythe to November days. Run like hell from the old bugger and get your submissions in.

St. Martin’s Minotaur/ Mystery Writers of America Best First Crime Novel Competition

Call for Stories Appreciating Black Fathers

Call for Holiday Tradition Stories

Sauce Magazine Seeks Food Essays

Chase the Dream Contest

P.S. - I'll continue the posts on starting a critique group next week.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

How To Start a Critique Group - Part 3 Establishing a Format

Now that you've herded your cats together from Part 2, you need to come up with a plan for how your group critiques.

Believe me, without a format, things can get messy. Egos get bruised, critiques don't happen, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria.

So there are a couple ways to go about it. I've done both, so I'll try to outline the advantages/disadvantages.

Option 1. Everyone makes copies of his or her submission before the first meeting and hands them out then for everyone to take home and comment on. Put a page limit - maybe 10-15. Spend the first meeting drinking lattes and getting to know each other.

Everyone brings submissions back the following meeting, and you pick names out of a hat for who goes first. Anyone who gets skipped for lack of time is written down to go first at the next meeting. Seriously - keep track of this. People get pissed if they don't get a turn, and rightly so.

  • Advantages: In-depth critiques and you get a lot critiqued at one time.

  • Disadvantages: Not everyone has time to take a monstrous stack of handouts home and do them justice. This is probably best for smaller critique groups - maybe around 6 or less.

Option 2. Everyone makes copies of his or her submission (5 page limit), brings them to the critique meeting, and reads work to the group right there for a critique. The group marks on a copy as the author reads. After he or she is finished, members take turns making overall comments. I recommend taking turns, or less talkative people (like moi) don't get heard.

  • Advantages: Instant gratification. Plus hearing the work can really highlight bumpy parts. You can make fewer copies (group members can share a copy for marking). People who are really crunched for time don't have to do homework. It all gets done at the meeting.

  • Disadvantages: Only a small amount gets critiqued and it may not be as in-depth. Plus, some people read like Bill Clinton at a fundraiser and the writing can seem better than it is, or they sound like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller. Anyone? Anyone? and the writing sounds less compelling. Also, us introverts get nervous about reading.

Those are the formats I've experienced. Modifications to each are certainly not out of the question, according to your group's needs. Some people email their stuff and insert comments in the document.

But whatever format you choose, this is not a democracy. If you are the critique group organizer, seize control like the little dictator you are and don't present any options at first. We all know what discussing things in committee is like. You can always adjust the format as issues come up. But someone needs to be the fearless leader. I nominate you.

Next blog: Tips and Warnings for running Critique Meetings in an orderly fashion, dammit.

Links to this post and all previous posts on starting a critique group can be found on the right under FAQ.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Nominate Us as a Top Ten Favorite Writing Blog

Writing White Papers is accepting nominations for the Top Ten Favorite Writing Blogs. Thanks to Tricia S. for nominating Coffee and Critique.

Shameless Self-Promotion: If you like Coffee and Critique, we could use a second nomination to qualify. Or go submit your favorite. I'm partial to The Renegade Writer Blog.

Thanks to everyone who hangs out here. I must now go hide my face - it's hard for us introverts to ask for such things.

How to Start a Critique Group - Part 2 Who Do I Want in My Group and How Do I Find Them?

First, what kind of writers do you want and what experience level? Fiction? Non-Fiction? Genre? Literary? Beginners? Published Writers?

It's best to cast a wide net and not restrict your membership too much. If you go for just cozy mystery writers or people who write paranormal chick lit thrillers, all you're likely to get is lonely. All writers improve with practice. The important thing is that they write regularly. Ho Hum writers can turn into the next Stephen King or Flannery O'Conner with enough regular practice of the craft. See - one genre writer, one literary writer. Please don't write me cranky notes about comparing Stephen King to Flannery O'Conner.

Coffee and Critique is open to writers of all levels and interests because we were all starting out at one point. Our much published members give the benefit of their wisdom to beginners, and we all get to read material we may not have picked up on our own at a book store. As far as we're concerned, all of it teaches us about writing - whether it's the kind we do or not. Except we don't do poetry because we don't feel qualified.

But there is nothing wrong with concentrating on fiction or non-fiction, or even a specfic genre like fantasy or mystery. It can be tougher if you live in a rural area that has fewer writers. You may have to open it to any writer. If you live in a large city, it's much easier. You have a bigger pool to draw from.

Draw up your member guidelines and make flyers you can hand to interested parties.

Once you've decided who you want in your new critique group, how do you find them?
  • First google for local writers' organizations in your state. They've already herded the writers together for you - now go into the pen and pick the best fillys. Get thee to a local chapter meeting. Ask if anyone is looking to join a critique group, and you should get some interest. If there are no local chapters, you might email the state group and ask them to post a "Writers for Critique Group Wanted" notice on their website and indicate what area of the state you live in.

  • You can also post an ad on Craigslist. I recommend you include a specific meeting date in your ad that's about a week or two after your post. This gives your quest momentum and lets writers know you are serious. And us shy introvert people can just show up and not talk ourselves out of responding to your ad because it gives us an angina attack.

  • Check the bookstores. Not to beat this one over the head, but writers hang out near books. Barnes and Noble, Borders, and independent bookstores often have writers inside clip clopping away on their keyboards. Strike up a conversation (or if you are a introvert like me, go to the cafe, make up a tent sign for your table saying "Writers Wanted for a Critique Group," buy a latte, and wait for the writers to come to you).

  • Post your flyers in local libraries, colleges, and bookstores. If you don't have much time to hang out or can't make a local writers' meeting, this is your best option besides Craigslist. Be sure you get permission so the flier doesn't get trashed for being unauthorized. The student activities office at colleges is usually in charge of postings, or they can tell you who is.

This is how I would go about it. I met my current critique group through a local chapter of the Missouri Writers Guild. I met my previous critique group by lamenting my lack of critique partners to the writers I met at a writing conference. A writer who was in an established critique group was kind enough to invite me to check his out.

My next blog will be on developing rules for your writing community a.k.a. Lion Taming for Critique Group Leaders.

Links to this post and all previous posts on starting a critique group can be found on the right under FAQ.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

How to Start A Critique Group - Part 1 Where do we meet?

I've had some questions on this lately, so I thought I'd do a few posts on how to start your own critique group. I've compiled the musings and methods of my fellow critique groupers into a handy dandy set of instructions.

1. Find a place to meet.

  • Talk to your local book store. Both Borders and Barnes and Noble will usually reserve space for writing groups in their cafes at no cost - hey, we buy books and lattes - it's a no brainer for them. Many independent bookstores will too.

  • If you don't have a bookstore close, try your local library and see if they have a room you can reserve. Those are your tax dollars at work, so use 'em.

  • Check out your church or local community center, if available. They may charge a small fee, but it can't be more expensive than everyone's frappuccino at Barnes and Noble.

  • Maybe you're Martha Stewart and meeting at your house would work. For me, I'd be holding my twitching left eye at the prospect of cleaning before each meeting. Also, I'd get too caught up in making refreshments. We're foodies at my house, so I'd spend too much time coming up with Gorgonzola and honey on sliced baguettes to get my writing ready to go. But, hey, Martha gets off on that stuff, so maybe you do too. Some groups rotate among members' houses, but that can get confusing. But do whatever works for your group.

Next post I'll address how to hook up with fellow writers interested in a critique group.

Links to this post and all previous posts on starting a critique group can be found on the right under FAQ.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Seeking Stories from Over Forty Group - Midlife Success

Second Wind Stories is seeking essays about love and business success after 40.

Authors selected will equally divide seventy percent of the advance money the editors receive, minus agent commission. It sounds like they will be shopping the project, so I don't know if payment is guaranteed - and I'm not sure what a typical anthology advance is or how many stories they will be using. The typical first book advance is 5,000 to 10,000- but I don't know if that applies to anthologies.

Let me try a worst case scenario: Advance = $5,000

15% Agent Commission $750 -

Total $4250

70% of Total = $2975/40 authors =$74

Disclaimer - I am not a math person, and I'm not sure I'm correctly calculating how agent commission is deducted. Bascially, I'm not sure what the hell I'm doing. But if I was submitting a story, I'd go based on my own weird calculations. More authors = less money. More advance = more money. Plus, you get published.

It doesn't sound like you'd get much less than the typical $100 usually paid to anthology authors, and you might get more. But the explanation is vague enough that I don't know. Just FYI.

There are email addresses for more questions: and If anyone finds out more, you might want to post it in the comments.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Check out the blog "Alone in the Condom Aisle"

I want to give a shout out to the blog Alone in the Condom Aisle for two reasons. One, she has my blog under "People I Think Are Fun in That I Don't Know You Kind of Way." How can I not just want to pinch her little cheeks and squee at her? In a totally virtual kind of way, of course.

Second, she is freaking hilarious. You have to check out her blog post "Bored Games" about giving everyone working in her office their own theme song which she plays from her cubicle. Personally I think the Imperial Death March applies to a lot of people. Unfortunately, several I know would be flattered by it. Now I have to go assign themes songs to everyone I know.

I really don't have time to do this, so I guess I should be irritated. Not. It's irresistible. So what's your theme song? We probably don't do well at picking our own, but I will think about mine now. I have no choice.

List of New Magazine Launches in October

Mr. Magazine has a blog on how the candy-fat month of October tends to be the biggest month for magazine launches. He has a list of ninety-six magazines that launched last month, complete with pictures of their covers.

Want to write about beer? There's a magazine for that. Actually there are several. I'm not sure what the women with big boobs is doing on the cover of this new one. I've never seen sex associated with beer advertising. . .

How about Koi? Yeah, I mean the fish. There is a magazine dedicated to Koi. Colorado, Iowa, Oklahoma, Florida and Hawaii are a few states that have new magazines dedicated to them.

Query forth.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

NaNoWriMo Starts

So. I did NaNoWriMo last year and had a great time and came out with about 40,000 words (nope, I didn't make it to the 50,000 word goal by November 30th.) I have been avoiding the knowledge that today is freaking November *shifty eyes* because I know there is no way in hell I can do it this year, and I'm downcast, bereft, bummed, bamboozled. . . Okay, not that last one but I got lost in the alliteration for a moment.

I kept going after November last year, and now I have a 65,000 word manuscript of a paranormal novel I am steadily revising with the keen insight of the coffee and critiquers. My first chapter is posted on my website.

This year, here I am with my face pressed up against the glass, condensation marks and face grease smudging the window, on the outside, looking in the cafe at Barnes and Noble where the writers I know go to flog their keyboard.

No warm camaraderie from my fellow authors. No late night marathons of writing while my children exist on Ramen noodles and whatever they scrape out to the crisper. No novel writing in November.

I'll certainly be writing everyday. But on stuff that pays me a lot quicker than shopping a novel does. Someone has to buy all that Ramen.

If you're doing NanNoWriMo, I'd love to hear about it. My fellow blogger at A Teaching Life is planning on doing it, so I'm going to live vicariously through her. If you're doing NaNoWriMo and blogging about it anywhere, tell me so I can use you shamelessly in the same manner.

So good luck, all you lucky, deranged NaNoWriMoers. May the force be with you. Always.

Congrats to Tricia Sanders!

Coffee and Critique member Tricia Sanders won 2nd place in two categories of the Springfield Writers' Guild Contest.

  • 2nd Place in the Prose-Nostalgia Category for Down Home
  • 2nd Honorable Mention in the Jim Stone Memorial Non-Fiction Category for Sins of the Season
Way to go, Tricia. (Okay, is it wrong I also feel like I'm giving myself a pep talk by congratulating someone who has the same name? I digress)

This is just two in a long line of contest wins for her, so I'm sure we'll be seeing more in the future. The Missouri Writers' Guild contest, perhaps?

St. Martin’s Minotaur/ Mystery Writers of America Best First Crime Novel Competition

Enter St. Martin’s Minotaur/Mystery Writers of America Best First Crime Novel Competition.

  • Unpublished manuscripts

  • minimum 60,000 words

  • Story Centers on a Murder or Serious Crime

  • Deadline to request an entry form is November 30, 2007

  • Deadline for manuscript submission is December 31, 2007

  • Prize: Contract and $10,000 advance

Come on, Paul. You know I'm talking to you.