Follow by Email

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Quick and Dirty Tips for Taking Freelance Article Photos

If only I had known then what I know now. I really tried to learn about photography before I went on my first assignment. But my eyes glazed over at the talk of f-stops and exposures. I didn't have time to take a class, but my pictures improved enormously after I looked at some basic tips Kodak has for taking pictures - with visuals!

What I've learned:

This is tricky because most cameras auto focus on stuff in the middle. I have to push the button halfway to focus it, then move the subject to where I want it.

Use a one color background to highlight your subject matter. Stuff get's lost if the background is too busy.

Sure, we always said it about Aunt Verbena, but be careful she doesn't actually end up with a pole up her butt in the photo. Watch for objects that visually merge together in the photo and move your subject as needed.

Try Different Angles:
The same subject from another angle can look uber different. Here are two pictures I took from different angles. This is Branson's Titanic Musuem shot from both sides.

Buy a 2G memory card for your camera, and go crazy. It's always better to have more pictures to choose from.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008



(No Entry Fee)The Early Onset Project seeks true stories about persons with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Early-onset Alzheimer’s or early-onset dementia develops in a person who is younger than age 65. Entries should be compelling slice-of-life stories that show how early-onset Alzheimer’s or a related dementia has affected you or someone close to you. Authors of stories selected for the collection will receive a free copy of the publication. No other payment will be made. Stories submitted for The Early Onset Project are automatically entered into a contest.

First Prize - $100Second Prize - $50Third Prize – $25Honorable Mention – $10

For a sample story and more information, please visit the Early Onset Project page on my website at

Linda FisherAlzheimer's Anthology of Unconditional Love:The 110,000 Missourians with Alzheimer's

Valentine Candy for the Bitter and Dysfunctional - Like Me!

Georganna Hancock over at Writer's Edge has a great post on Bittersweets. (You have to scroll down the page a bit to see the post)

It's candy for the Valentine disaffected among us. They have three collections of conversation hearts: Dejected, Dysfunctional, and Dumped. They say things like:
CALL A 900#

I have a few of my own I wish they would add:

Feel free to add your own special thoughts on Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Patry Francis and The Liar's Diary

Patry Francis is a new author who's first book, The Liar's Diary, comes out today in paperback version.

She was recently diagnosed with an agressive form of cancer, so she isn't much up to promoting the book. So several authors and blogs have joined together to support her by spreading the word about The Liar's Diary. Francis is also blogging about her illness at the Simply Wait blog.

So check out the book, spread the word, and send a positive thought out into the universe for Patry.

Anthology Seeks Surfing Stories

The Press Release from PRWeb: (I added the bold to make it easier to read).

Solana Beach, CA (PRWEB) January 29, 2008 -- Surfing's Greatest Misadventures: Vol. 2 Open for Story Submissions

Deadline: June 30th, 2008

Casagrande Press is seeking stories, articles, and essays to publish in its forthcoming book Surfing's Greatest Misadventures: Volume 2. We are looking for nonfiction, first-person surf stories of bad judgment calls, pranks, comical/ironic episodes, disaster, attacking predators, misfortune, injury, loss of wit or limb, panic, critical conditions, contest meltdowns, everyday fears, surf trips gone wrong or the out-of-water episodes that surround surfing. We're looking for well-written stories that tell a good tale, reflect the culture of surfing, and develop the depth of the characters involved. Open to writers and surfers of any level.

Writers will be paid for submissions that get published
To see what the first book looked like visit
There is no fee to submit a story. We will consider previously published stories. Submit online at

Writers, columnists, reporters and editors encouraged to submit stories.

Monday, January 28, 2008

How To Critique Fiction for Fellow Writers Part I Eight Tips on Critiquing

Before I joined my first critique group, I was unsure what was expected of me when I commented on others’ writing. What did I know? I was just starting out. What if I made a stupid comment that instantly outed me as an amateur?

Most critique groups understand that new members need to observe how the group works before they join in, so you generally don’t have to worry about being put on the spot the first meeting. Having said that, I can give you a few tips on how to give a helpful critique to a fellow writer.

1. Point out what you like.
It helps break the ice when you give positive feedback – for you and them. Authors basking in the glow of a compliment are eager to hear the next thing you have to say. It also tells them what they are doing right, so they can keep doing it. Focusing only on negatives can discourage even the most tenacious authors.

2. Ask questions.
Criticism can be hard to take for anyone. Asking questions is less threatening than making “This is wrong,” statements. Better to say, “Is this the word you want here?” “Can you tell me more about this character so I can get to know them?” Caution – make the questions rhetorical rather than actual inquiries – you don’t want an extensive discussion.

3. Be Honest.
We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so sometimes we get wishy washy. If they wanted that kind of feedback, they could give it to their mother. (Love you, Mom!) As long as you’re tactful, say what you really think. That’s what a critique group is for. If you run into someone who just wants to share his or her writing instead of getting feedback, keep saying what you think. Usually they’ll get the message and stick to giving stuff to family and friends instead of taking up your critique group’s time.

4. Write on the paper.
I have 41,000 things I need to remember on a daily basis. There's an excellent chance I’ll forget a comment if you don’t write it down for me. And if you just have to make minor punctuation corrections, you can add them without taking up valuable critique time that should be spent on content. You can also write notes if you disagree with another group member's critique comment – this lets the writer know your opinion without offending the person you disagree with.

5. Look at the characters.
If you aren’t interested in the people in the story, you don’t care what happens to them. Ask the author to include personality quirks and background history that help us get to know the character.

6. Look at the dialogue.
Most people use contractions and shortened versions of sentences when they speak. When you read the dialogue, is it stilted or over explained? Suggest changes that make it sound more like people talk to each other. Keep in mind certain characters may have more formal speech patterns as part of who they are and don’t necessarily need changes.

7. Point out where they are telling vs. showing.
As authors, we want to make sure our readers get it, so we sometime do a good job of showing, but then also tell to the point of overkill. If the character pounds on the table, turns magenta, and spittle flies out of his mouth as he is dressing down an employee, the author doesn’t need to then tell us he’s angry. He or she just showed us. If, on the other hand, the writer only tells us these things, encourage him or her to show it instead.

8.Be patient.
Writers are constantly developing, and the writing life isn't for the squeamish. Part of your job as a writer is to give others a hand up and the encouragement to keep going. These are kindred spirits, so be patient if someone argues with your comments or seems to have a long way to go in their writing skills. We are all at different places on the cosmic journey of writing.

Stay tuned for: How to Critique Fiction for Fellow Writers Part II - The “Don’ts” of Critiquing for a Fellow Writer.

Can't find a critique group? Start your own:
How to Start a Critique Group Part 1 - Finding a Place To Meet
How to Start a Critique Group Part 2 - Finding Critique Group Members
How to Start A Critique Group Part 3 - How the Critique Group Works
How to Start a Critique Group Part 4 - Managing your Critique Group

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mystery Author Laura Bradford to Speak At Saturday Writers Today

Saturday Writers, the local chapter of the Missouri Writer’s Guild, will host mystery author Laura Bradford as she presents “Tricks of the Promotion Trade” on Saturday, January 26 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the St. Peters Community and Arts Center, 1035 St. Peters-Howell Road, off Mid Rivers Mall Drive in St. Peters.

The meeting is free to members and $5 for non-members. As the publishing world changes at lightning speed, it’s become even more important for writers to learn the ins and outs of promotion. Laura Bradford, a local mystery author, will share some tried and true promotion tricks she’s learned along the way—both as a promoter and a promotee.

Laura Bradford is the author of Marked By Fate, the newest in her Jenkins & Burns Mystery Series. Her debut title, Jury of One, was an Agatha nominee and a sold-out book club selection for Harlequin's Worldwide Mystery.

Learn more by visiting her website:

Saturday Writers meets on the last Saturday of the month. For more information, visit the Saturday Writer's website at

Friday, January 25, 2008

StoryQuarterly Wants Fiction and Nonfiction Love Stories

Thanks for the contest heads up from Tricia S.

StoryQuarterly announces the SQ Love Story Contest. They want any kind of love story - love for a person, object, or idea. Open to fiction and nonfiction entries, the contest offers:

First Prize of $2,500
Second Prize of $1,500
Third Prize of $750
Ten Finalists each will receive $100

Entry fee: $20 but it includes access to Narrative Backstage.

Deadline for entries: March 31, 2008.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bylines Wants Writers' Stories For Calendar

From Donna V.

Sylvia Forbes, a member of the Missouri Writers' Guild and the editor of Bylines writer's desk calendar is looking for succinct personal stories from writers about the writing life.

The calendar states that she invites dedicated, serious writers who have been published and paid for their work to submit an entry for a future issue. She accepts submissions via e-mail. Payment is one contributor copy and $5--not a lot of ca$h, but it's a good way to get name recognition, and the calendar is really cool. Deadline for submissions is Feb 1--next Friday! For more info, check out her web site or e-mail Sylvia at before all the weeks for 2009 are filled.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pubrants Says A New Literary Agency is Opening in Colorado

The supremely helpful agent blogger Kristin Nelson has a post about a new literary agency opening in Colorado. The KT Literary Agency will be looking for extra fresh brains for clients (Ya'll know I write about zombies).

So if you have a book ready to go, start your query engines.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cell Phone Novels

Does this give new meaning to flash fiction or what? A writer friend recently sent me this link about cell phone novels. read more I don't even text message, so I certainly can't imagine writing a novel on my cell phone. Or reading one on my cell phone. Hello! I may be a technophobe (or dinosaur as my daughter likes to remind me), but I have enough trouble hitting the right keys on my computer keyboard, much less trying to tap them out on a cell.

The Other Tricia

Amazon Reviewers Contest

Amazon needs reviewers to look at the finalists in its Amazon breakthrough novel contest. If you have time to do at least 25 reviews of novel excerpts, you'll be entered in a contest to win a Kindle ereader, a $2000 gift card, and a HP printer/fax/scanner/copier.

See the offical rules for details. The excerpts are free and up to about 5,000 words long. They will also be judging the quality of the reviews, not just the number finished.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Jane Austen T-shirts and Northanger Abbey

Greetings to all Austinites. If you are as immersed in Jane as I and watching Masterpiece Theater's Complete Jane Austen, check out these great T-shirts with Jane Austen quotes.

I must have the one that says, "I am excessively diverted." Although "Obstinate, headstrong girl!" does have its appeal.

This wall calendar isn't bad either if you haven't picked one up yet for this year.

Northanger Abbey was on last night, and I must say I was excessively diverted. Felicity Jones was perfect as Catherine Morland. She was very young, very charming, and very caught up in her novels. I loved her dream sequences where she swoons- funny stuff. She came off as genuine rather than flighty.

I also appreciated the way Austen pokes light at the romance novels of the time, but also points out some things are worse than ghosts and lunatics locked up in secret room (forgive me, Jane Eyre). Like evil fathers who stand in the way of true love! The vampire at Northanger Abbey (the Tilney patriarch) craves money instead of blood. Alas, real life is sometimes far more sordid than a novel.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Americans and Brits Aren't Reading and That's Cool With Me

Pinky: Gee, Brain, what are we going to do tonight?
Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky - try to take over the world!

Most of us bibliophiles have seen the poll that say a quarter of Americans didn't read a single book last year. Now a new one says the Brits aren't doing any better. Thanks to the Writer Beware Blog for posting on this. And as Nathan Bransford points out, even Steve Jobs says people don't read - so no Apple ereader for the twelve of us who do.

Some of us readers/writers go around lamenting this lack of reading. I don't understand why.

It's actually awesome because that means eventually I will rule the earth and all its outer planets (assisted by you eleven other people that Steve Jobs concedes read books). People who read know things. Ergo, people who don't read are poor shlubs who will have to submit to my world domination because they don't know where Africa is on a map or that Hitler was on the bad side in WWII. Would you put someone who didn't know those things in charge? I think not.

But wait, you say. I want to get published and paid for it. If no one is reading, how will that happen? We are in charge, silly. We get to keep all the money and resources ala Ferdinand Marcos. And we read, so you'll still get your books read by people who appreciate your efforts and don't leave nasty reviews for you on Amazon.

So all of you who aren't reading books? Don't worry your pretty little heads about a thing. I'll take care of everything. I've had time to read up on it. Go watch Brett Michaels "Rock of Love" (my addiction to Project Runway is legitimate research of...something).

All of you mourning the death of reading - Shhhhhh. There are overlord positions available in my new world order if you keep your yap shut and let sleeping minds lie. Moohoohahaha!

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't. - Mark Twain

Twain would have been good at taking over the world, don't you think?

Mid-Missouri Comics Collective

I just added the Mid-Missouri Comics Collective to the Missouri Writers Links on the blog. Thanks to Winter for bringing their site to my attention.

According the their homepage, the Collective is "a group of comic creators and enthusiasts based in Columbia, MO." They have great information and articles for all graphic novelists and comic fans out there, so go check them out.

Publishers Seeking Young Adult Books

Arlington Writers Online (AWOL) a children's writers critique group, reports the Flux imprint is seeking YA novels along with Pelican and Tor Books.

YA is hot, hot, hot. So if you've already got one in your pocket or always wanted to write young adult, get to it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

AWP Writing Contests

The Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) is accepting literary book submissions for its contest series. There are four awards for:

  • A book of poetry
  • A book of collected short fiction
  • A novel
  • A book of collected non-fiction

Submissions are being accepted between January 1 and February 28, 2008 for all categories.

Entry fee: $25 for nonmembers and $10 for AWP members


  • Donald Hall Prize in Poetry: $4,000 University of Pittsburgh Press

  • Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction: $4,000 Rhodes University of Massachusetts Press

  • AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction: $2,000 University of Georgia Press

  • AWP Prize in the Novel: $2,000 New Issues Press

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Other People's Pictures - Inspiration for Short Stories

The Daily Sauce, Sauce Magazine's newsletter about St. Louis, says the Missouri History Museum is showing a documentary tomorrow night about people who collect orphaned photographs at flea markets. It's called Other People's Pictures.

It may sound bizarre to collect photos of people you don't know, but I so understand it. Old photographs are fascinating. I love that scene in Dead Poet's Society where Robin Williams has them look at the photographs of all the students who came before them as he whispers "Carpe" "Diem." Okay, it's a little creepy too.

The documentary features one guy who's mother burned all the family photos, so he goes around collecting photos and making his own "family" photo albums. Tell me that's not a novel waiting to happen.

Since one of my goals is to write a short story this year, I think it'd be great to look through some photographs for inspiration. And they would have to belong to other people because I already know the stories behind my family photos. Anyone got any old photos? My favorite of my Grandma is above. She was a Harvey Girl at St. Louis Union Station. This picture is right after she got off work. She's taking off her uniform and my sweet tempered Gram looks mildly annoyed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Complete Jane Austen - Masterpiece Theater's Persuasion Review

I have been waiting, like the literature geek I am, for the airing of the complete Jane Austen on Masterpiece Theater. I was thrilled they were starting with Persuasion because it's one of my faves. I really, really, really wanted to like it. I like the actors they cast, and I was really looking forward to it. For about ten minutets after it aired last night, I was like, well, isn't that nice.

But upon further reflection and rewinding, I have to say I'm disappointed. My heart was wide open people. I wanted to like this. And as much as it is actually Persuasion, I do. But.

Anne Eliot looks into the camera too frickin much. At first I was charmed. Oh! Me? She's looking at me and allowing me to share in the story! I feel so...connected! But after the fifth or sixth time, I was annoyed. Stop looking at me and look at Captain Wentworth for god's sake. You've only been waiting nearly a decade to see him again. If used sparingly, I think this technique would've been a nice touch. But too much of it slaughtered the feeling of intimacy with the audience.

They also messed with two of my favorite scenes. When Anne is out for a walk with Wentworth and the others, she falls down and it looks like she goes on an LSD trip. Wentworth appears hovering over her in the vapor and then suddenly she sits up and he's gone. What could have been a moment of connection instead needs some Pepto Bismol.

And right after than, Wentworth's sister and hubby come along in a carriage and Captain W. asks them to take the injured Anne home. This shows us he still cares! But unless you already know the story, you totally miss it when he leans over and asks his sister to take care of Anne.

Then he throws her on the back of the buggy. There is none of that understated passion of him having to touch her to help her in the carriage. I mean, in the movie version of Pride and Prejudice, Darcy has to help Elizabeth into a carriage. After he walks away, we just get a close up of his hand flexing as a reaction to touching her. I swooned!

But oh no. Anne's a sack of potatoes he throws on the back of the carriage. They can't rip each other's clothes off people! It's Jane Austen! We only have those polite little moments to live off of instead of the slobbery movie kiss. Do not deprive me of them!

And when she finally accepts his proposal? They are finally together? The kiss looks like she's trying to reach up and bite his face off and he's not bending over to help her a bit. What is up with that! I'm totally a kiss scene fan and they might have redeemed my disappointment with a good kiss; they failed miserably!

Having said that, I would still watch it again. But I prefer the Ciaran Hinds/Amanda Root version if I have a choice. And as the owner of a copy, I do. And there are way too many exclamation points in this review.

Journeywoman Seeks Travel Stories for Contest

Rolf Potts' Vagabonding has info posted on the Journeywoman's Travel Writing Contest.

They want 500 word essays from women that are "inspiring stories of determination and courage." They can be funny or serious stories.

The deadline is March 15, 2008.
First Place: $100
2nd - 4th place: $25

No entry fee.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cheesecake with a Slice of Crime

Nothing against Barnes and Noble (I love their chai tea) but don't you wish we could have critique meetings once in awhile at this place?

I found it on agent Janet Reid's site. She also has a great link on the previous day's blog to a really bad query letter.

Sweet Gum Press Seeks Missouri Paranormal Stories

Thanks to Donna for this announcement from Sweet Gum Press:

In addition to the on-going call for novels and collections of short fiction or essays, Sweetgum Press ( currently seeks, for an anthology, non-fiction based on real-life mysterious and paranormal phenomena in Missouri (marsh lights, hauntings, and the like): Anecdotes, essays, interviews or other appropriate genre from 500 words (anecdote) to 8000 words. Contributors whose work is selected will receive a small cash payment, the amount depending on the length of the piece, and copies of the publication. Anticipated date of publication is fall 2008. Submit your best work, in standard professional format, to Sweetgum Press, P. O. Drawer J, Warrensburg, MO 64093.

Queries only to: See our general guidelines at

They are also still looking for novel and short story collections.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Romance Novella Contest

The Novelspot Gazette has posted info about a romance novella contest with Red Sage Publishing.

They want 25,000-35,000 word stories about alpha males and modern women. There is no entry fee.

Deadline for submissions: March 31, 2008.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Writer Mama Scholarship for Online Class

Wish you could take an online writing class but can't afford the price? Christina Katz at Writer Mama is offering a full scholarship to one student for her "Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff" class.

The application period is between January 13 - January 16, 2008. The class will begin on February 13. There's a scholarship application form on her website. She'll be offering three more scholarships throughout the year, so stay tuned.

WSJC & The Missouri Writers Guild Sponsor The Best of Riverside Stories Contest


1. Entries are to be 2000 word with a 10% leeway. For instance, as a writer, if necessary, you can go over the word limit by 200 words. However, remember the tighter you write the better.

2. Entries can include creative nonfiction or fictional works about anything that relates to a body of water such as a river, creek, tributary or canal.

3. Manuscripts should look professional as if being submitted to a publisher. All entries need to be double spaced, 12pt font Times New Roman or Courier New. Entries must be unpublished. Title and page number must be located at the upper left hand corner of each page.

4. The WSJC entry fee is $5.00 and materials submitted for the contest will not be returned.

5. Entry period/deadline: Submissions for the WSJC Riverside Stories Contest must be postmarked between January 1 and March 15, 2008. Entries will not be accepted before January 1, 2008.

6. The author’s name must not appear on the manuscript. Include a title page with name, address, telephone number, email address, word count and title of submission. Your check is not to be submitted with your entry [SEE BELOW]

7. Write down ALL categories you are entering on an index card with the title of your submissions, the categories and your name.

8. Remit Entry Fees by check or money order, payable to the Missouri Writers' Guild in the total amount for all entries submitted.

9. For example, if you submit one entry WSJC Riverside Stories Contest, you will submit your index card along with $5.00 to Margo Balinski Missouri Writers’ Guild President 209 N. Jefferson St. Mahomet, IL 61853.

10. Submit your entries to Doris Mueller, 4 East Lakewood Dr Fenton, MO 63026

11. Prizes: First place $25.00, Second Place $15.00, Third Place $10.00 awarded with certificates at the Missouri Writers Guild in April. See for more information about the conference and the contests the guild is offering.

12. Contact Person: Dorry Catherine Pease [Place Contest in the subject line to avoid my spam]

Wired Art Writing Contest in St. Louis

Here is a press release from the St. Louis Writers Guild on a new contest.


In a unique collaboration, St. Louis Writers Guild, Art World Association, South County Times, and the Wired Coffee café are co-hosting Wired Art, a writing contest for art-inspired poems, stories and essays. The artwork was created by members of Art World Association and is currently displayed at the Wired Coffee café, 3860 S. Lindbergh, Sunset Hills. The public is invited to visit the cafe, enjoy great food and drinks, enjoy the art, and select one work on which to base a poem or short story or essay of up to 500 words.

Nine writing entries will be chosen by judges who are members of St. Louis Writers Guild as winners. Beginning in March, one winning writing entry and the art that inspired it will be published by South County Times.

Also, on Tuesday, March 11, SLWG's regular Open Mic Night at Wired Coffee, from 7 to 9 p.m., will begin with live readings of the Wired Art writing contest winning entries.

Contest deadline: February 26. For complete guidelines, including the printable contest entry form, visit:

St. Louis Writers Guild's Wired Coffee Open Mic Night takes place every 2nd Tuesday at Wired Coffee in Sunset Hills. It is free and open to the public. Register to attend or read.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Publishers Weekly Publishing Trends for the New Year 2008

Mike Shatzkin, CEO of Idea Logical and digital guru has a Publishers Weekly article on 15 Trends to Watch in 2008 for the world of publishing.

Among the predictions - EBooks will become more popular (though still not a huge share of the market) and the publishing industry will begin to specialize in niche books for very specific audiences. So niche may be the way to go if you've always wanted to write that book on ninja training your dog or knitting BBQ grill covers.

Query on.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Novel Contests Roundup by C. Hope Clark On W.O.W

Got a novel manuscript burning a hole in your pocket? C. Hope Clark has a great article in her W.O.W. column about novel contests you can submit to while waiting for agents/editors to respond to your queries. She lists competitions for entire novels, excerpts, first chapters, and even first lines.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Chicken Soup Wants Stories for 2008

It's time for a fresh chicken soup call for story submissions. For 2008 they want the following:

  • Christmas stories
  • Cat Stories
  • Dog Stories
  • Basketball Stories
  • Football Stories
  • Runner's Stories
  • Green Stories
  • Expectant Mother Stories
  • Couple Stories
  • Twin Stories
  • Leadership Stories
  • Catholic Stories
  • Stay-at-Home-Mom Stories
And many, many more. Okay, maybe just a few more. But I got tired of typing. You can find their submission guidelines on their site.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Garden & Gun Magazine

One of the hottest new magzine debuts of last year is Garden & Gun Magazine: 21st Century Southern America. No. I'm not kidding. It features two of the south's great love affairs - beautifully manicured greenery and the business end of a gun. You'll find their editorial info on their website if you want to pitch them.

Who wouldn't tell its founders they're crazy if they heard the magazine idea pitched? And yet it fits so perfectly. The southern belles in their gardens sipping tea and the men out shooting stuff.

I was sucked into the dixie vortex first by my favorite southern authors William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, and Harper Lee. Then by my husband who introduced me to the shocking sight of a deer hanging up out in the shed, waiting to be skinned. I've been coerced into firing a gun and eating fried okra. These things never would have happened without me marrying into the south.

I do sort of live in the south - but not really. Missouri is among those contested states that mainly had southern sympathies during the Civil War, but St. Louis is too urban to feel really southern. It's more Paris light than Gone With the Wind. But I visit southern realms every time we travel 100 miles south in Missouri to my in-laws farmhouse. It sits alone amidst the acres of cotton, soybeans, and corn.

From what I've seen from this border state, there is something a little crazy and a lot wonderful about southern culture. Sometimes backward and yet beautiful. Honest and uncompromising. Its mystique rises like cream in this new magazine.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Writing Contest List from Pikes Peak Library District

Colorado's Pikes Peak Library District has an extensive list of writing contests posted on its site.

For example, it's again time to submit humor essays to the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. The deadline is February 17, 2008. No entry fee!

Highlights for Children is also having a short story contest for futuristic stories. Entries can be up to 800 words and must be postmarked between January 1 - January 31st. No entry fee.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Poets and Writers Magazine Classifieds For Jan 2008

Check out Poets and Writers Magazine's Classifieds for anthology opportunities. Among other things, they want writing from:
  • People 50 and older
  • women with diabetes
  • indivduals with stories about their personal reaction to climate change
  • "military brats" who write poetry
  • Female poets over 60
  • anyone who has something they wouldn't tell their mother (seriously, that's about everyone)

And remember this great advice from the Novel and Short Story Writers Market blog on submitting to anthologies and contests.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Saturday Writers One-Page Poem Contest

In honor of April being poetry month, Saturday Writers is announcing our 6th annual poetry contest!

Submission Guidelines:
1) Any style, any subject, any form allowed. Wow us in one page. (One poem per single-spaced page.)
2) No identification should appear on the entry. Attach a separate coversheet with title, name, address, e-mail, and phone number.
3) Two copies of each entry! (Both judges need a copy.)
4) Entry fee: $5 per poem, maximum of three entries.
5) Poems must be unpublished at the time of submission, original work of the contestant.
6) Deadline: March 15, 2008 postmark.
7) Prizes: 1st place - $100, 2nd place - $50, 3rd place - $25. Top 10 entries receive a certificate.
8) Winners will be posted on the website by April 30, 2008. Certificates and cash prizes will be mailed the following week.
9) Mail entries flat, not folded, to: Saturday Writers One-page Poem Contest, Tricia Sanders, 90 Westwood Trails, Foristell, MO 63348. Do NOT send by certified mail!
10) Checks payable to: Saturday Writers.

Contest is open to members of Saturday Writers and non-members. Prize winners and honorable mention recipients (top ten only) may be given the opportunity to have their stories included (one time rights) in the Saturday Writers literary collection, published the following year.

For a list of winners, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Or check out our website after April 30:
Decision of judges is final. Not responsible for lost or misdirected entries. Poems will not be returned.

The Buffalo News Short-Short Fiction Contest

The Buffalo News is holding its annual writing contest. This time for a short piece - 600 words are less. The story must contain the following elements.

1. A man

2. A woman

3. A job offer

4. Set in western New York

5. Open to teens and adults living in western New York

Deadline: January 24, 2008

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto - Anthology Seeks Robot Stories

D.L. Snell's Market Scoops has an interview with an editor looking for robot stories. The anthology, called Robots Beyond, is for speculative fiction about robots that crosses genres. Check out the blog post for more information.

The pay is .01$ a word and contributor's copy. The deadline for submissions is April 4, 2008.

Query on.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

How to Start a Critique Group - Part 4 Managing Your Critique Group

As promised, way longer ago than I shall mention, I have some humble words of advice on how to manage your critique group for maximum efficiency.

Writers mostly sit by themselves composing works they fervently hope will be read. So sometimes when we get out in public, we act like the nine-year-old weird kid (I grew out of it beautifully) who never had any friends.

When a group of popular kids walks up and asks them to play kickball in their critique group, the new kid misses the ball for trying too hard and develops diarrhea of the manuscript. He or she is so excited, amnesia strikes that anyone else has writing to share. It’s all about US.

So you need a few personality types to manage us problem children:

A Manager – You need someone to keep track of who wants to read, who has read recently, and who is up for their turn. A notebook and an office-manager type work fine. This keeps people from getting ticked they haven’t had a turn when they should. You may also want this person to send out any announcements or email updates about the group.

A Bad Cop – You need that person (who is not me) who says, “Stop doing that.” If a fellow writer:
1.Takes too long to critique
2. Tries to read more than the rules allow
3. Reads something they want to share rather than actually have critiqued
4. Assassinates writing rather than critiquing
5. Gets way off the topic of writing when discussing what caliber your bullet should be or how railroads started in the 1800’s (we all do this on occasion)

The Bad Cop steps in and swings the proverbial nightstick. He or she points out the crime and gives a warning.

I’d give this job to a specific person so they know they have to step up – kinda like you need to point to a specific person and say “Call 911” instead of addressing the crowd. Everyone always thinks someone else will do it unless you ask them specifically.

The Bad Cop saves critique time and keeps problems from poisoning the group atmosphere.

A Good Cop – Sometimes feelings can get hurt after the bad cop points out a problem. The good cop can sweep up behind them, moderate the criticism, and keep the group from fragmenting under disagreement. This person will acknowledge what everyone is saying, soothe hurt feelings, and make people feel a welcome, valuable part of the group by pointing out their strengths in critique after a weakness has been highlighted like a gassy blue neon sign.

These jobs can rotate between members, or be combined if say your manager type may make a good bad cop or good cop too.

There will still be problems. Add people into the mix, and you always have differences of opinion and conflicting personality types. But having these specific jobs filled by someone in your group can make things run much more smoothly and keep anyone from getting tossed up against the wall and frisked for writer-just-let-out-of-her-cage behavior.

I really love my critique group, but it took me several group trials to find the right fit. That's okay. People, strangely enough, do not have the same opinions about everything. A writer must find the group for them - or follow these posts and create one that works the way he or she does. I hope everyone considers a critique group in the new year. My group has helped me get two pieces published so far - and helped me make them works I'm proud to wave as clips.

Coffee and Critique Writers Group meetings resume on January 8th at 10:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. If you live near enough, I hope to see you there.

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