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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"The Nation's" Student Writing Contest

The White House by Joshua Davis Creative Commons

According to the Politics and Government Blog of the University of Puget Sound, The Nation is sponsoring a student writing contest for high school and college students.

To enter the contest, students must write an essay answering the question: What have you learned from a personal experience that the next president should know before setting the agenda for the country?

Prizes: Winners in each category will receive $1000 and publication in The Nation. Five Finalists will receive $200 and online publication.
Word Count: 800 words or less
Deadline: May 31, 2008
Mail essays in the body of the email to:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

WOW! Women On Writing Spring 2008 Flash Fiction Contest

Lightning on Columbia River by Phatman Creative Commons

Seal Press is sponsoring WOW Women on Writing's Spring 2008 Flash Fiction Contest. There is a small entry fee, but lots of prizes for 35 writers who enter and win. Plus and agent reads your writing (hello, foot in the door for 5 bucks).

Word Count: 250-500 words
Entry Fee: $5 to enter, $10 to include a critique of your entry

Deadline: May 31, 2008 Midnight, Pacific Time
Guest Judge: Literary Agent Wendy Sherman of Wendy Sherman Associates
Subject: Open prompt - No theme
1st: $200, publication on WOW, and other goodies
2nd: $150, publication on WOW, and other goodies
3rd: $100, publication on WOW, and other goodies
7 Runners up will get goodies and publication on WOW
25 will get Honorable Mentions and their name listed on WOW

Recent and soon-to-be-published titles from Seal Press include: Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir by Jennette Fulda; Own It!: The Ups and Downs of Homebuying for Women Who Go it Alone by Jennifer Musselman; and Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage by Jenny Block. (Wow, indeed, on that last one). They are a Publisher's Weekly Publisher of the Year for 2007.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Agent Kristin Nelson On Perfect Pitches in Query Letters

Write by the trial Creative Commons

Kristin Nelson has a great new series of posts on perfecting your book's pitch, including an exercise on identifying your plot catalyst.

Her post today is on building your query letter pitch paragraph, part one. Stay tuned for part two.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Want to Write for Harlequin's Nocturne Bites?

Harlequin's new Paranormal Romance Blog has a post from editor Ann Leslie Tuttle, on the Nocturne Bites series, describing specifically what she's looking for in one of these 10,000 - 15,000 word dark paranormal stories.

She indicates she's getting lots of submissions, but many are too light ala Mary Janice Davidson. (Love her, though. I just finished Dead and Loving It and I did - love it, I mean).

So check out her blog post for the inside scoop.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Submissions Wanted: Six Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak and Being a Mom

Mine with visual aid: Never leave children, alone at zoo.

Smith, the people who brought you the six-word memoir are looking for submissions for two new books - Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak and Six-Word Momoirs about being a mother.

So even if you haven't had a lot of writing time recently, you know you can come up with six words.

You can see some examples on their website.

"Favorite Grandparent Memory" Writing Contest

The picture is of my grandmother, Vera Allen, after a hard day as a Harvey Girl. Poor women. I remember squirting her with a hose and hiding from her when she babysat me. She never minded any of the mischief inflicted on her.

Grand Magazine and The National Association of Baby Boomer Women (NABBW) are sponsoring an essay contest on your favorite grandparent memory.

The contest is open to Boomer men and women.

Prize: $250, membership in NABBW, and publication in the September/October edition of Grand Magazine.
Length: 500 words or less

Deadline: July 1, 2008
From the Press Release:
According to Dotsie Bregel, founder of the NABBW, “We know everyone has a favorite story tucked away about their “Granny,” or “Poppa.” With boomers embracing grandparenting, we thought it would be fun to consider what we boomers enjoyed most about our own grandparents.”

Entries can be submitted to with FAVORITE GRANDPARENT MEMORY in the subject line. Entries must be 500 words or less and must be sent as an attachment in a Word document by July 1, 2008. Contestants should include their name, email address and a short bio (no more than 75 words) at the top of the attached Word document entry."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Poet and Translator Michael Castro to Speak at Saturday Writers

Saturday Writers Meeting:

April 26, 2008

11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Free to Members, $5 for guests (which you can apply toward membership if you decide to join after the meeting)

St. Peters Community and Arts Center, 1035 St. Peters Howell Road (just off Mid Rivers Mall Drive); St. Peters, MO 63376.

From the Saturday Writers Website:

April 26 - Poet, editor and translator MICHAEL CASTRO will talk about Collaborations: Translating the Voices in My Head.

Castro is a poet, translator, and performance artist. He is the co-founder of the literary organization and magazine, River Styx, in operation in St. Louis since 1975. He has hosted three poetry radio programs, broadcasting poetry programming over twenty years--most recently, Poetry Beat (1989--2003, KDHX-FM St. Louis).
He has published ten books of poetry, including Human Rites (2002), and two books of translations (with Hungarian poet, Gabor Gyukics), Swimming in the Ground: Contemporary Hungarian Poets (2001) and A Transparent Lion: Selected Poetry of Attila Jozsef (2006). His performance work with music is reflected in two recent CD's: "Kokopilau" with wind player J.D. Parran, and "Endless Root" with multi-instrumentalist Joe Catalano (both 2008). Castro teaches at Lindenwood University, where he founded the MFA in Writing Program.

Saturday Writers is a not-for-profit organization and one of fourteen chapters of the Missouri Writers Guild. Founded in January 2002, our members include writers from the Missouri counties of St. Charles, Lincoln, Warren, and St. Louis, as well as members from throughout Missouri and other states. Our members write in all genres: fiction, non-fiction, essays, memoirs, poetry.

Chapter meetings are the last Saturday of each month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the St. Peters Community and Arts Center, 1035 St. Peters Howell Road (just off Mid Rivers Mall Drive); St. Peters, MO 63376. Phone 636-397-6903.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reading Isn't Fundamental to the Bush Administration

Reading by BusyMommy Creative Commons

Agent Jonathon Lyons has a post about how the new Bush budget for next year eliminates the Reading is Fundamental Program that distributes books to at-risk kids. But there's plenty of money for the Pentagon.

He has a link that lets you write your congressman to help save their funding.

Kids + books = smarter, happier kids

Kids - books = paying ten times more for prison guards named Earl to incarcerate them later.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Green is Good - In the Environment and My Pocket

Places for Writers has info on a green themed writing contest with a nice prize - $500. Check it out.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Media Round-up: Reactions to the New HarperCollins Profit Sharing Imprint

Photo Stardust_ Creative Commons
Many of you heard HarperCollins has a new imprint that will forgo advances to instead profit share with authors. So here is a round up of what various agents think about the news, and what it means for authors.

At the Missouri Writers Guild Conference, many of us sensed the publication world is about to change. As poorly as sales have been, it only makes sense they would try new methods. And let's face it, as Kristin Nelson points out, in today's p.o.d. world taking a year or more to get a book published is just inconceivable. As authors, we'd like to get in on the ground floor - except the trick is to get in those slidy doors when the elevator is going up and not having electrical problems trying to get off the ground. Is this the next big thing?

Pubrants Kristin Nelson thinks with a shorter publication schedule and a more frequent payment schedule, it might benefit nonfiction authors.

Writers Blog has concerns.

A GalleyCat article questions agents on their opinion of the imprint.

William Morris agent Jennifer Rudolph Walsh has a brief quote about it in this New York article.

The Wall Street Journal also has an overview of the plan and its implications.

If they don't change the payment schedule, this could really stink for authors. Imagine writing the book and waiting not just until you get the project sold, but adding a year or two before it's published. Ick.

So what do you think the future of publishing is? Profit sharing? Ebooks? Self-publishing?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Fun: Evil Twins, Dark Attics, and Poison, Oh My

Creative Commons Ghost in the Attic by rankingranqueen

Prepare to eject coffee (or tea) out of your nose. Author Rachel M Brown has a mouth-falls-open-she's-making-this-up plot summary of a turny twisty book called Trelawny.

Ah, see, that's what my book needs. An evil twin.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Anthologies Seek Stories about Iraq War, Breast Cancer, and Recovering From Financial Disaster

According to the Anthology News and Reviews Blog, LaChance Publishing is seeking a variety of essays for their "Voices of" book series including:

Voices from Iraq
Voices of Depression
Voices of Breast Cancer, volume 2
Voices of Childhood Cancer
Voices of Diabetes
Voices of Heart Disease
Voices of Parkinson's
Back From Zero (Recovering from financial disaster)
Dogs - stories about dogs who have changed people's lives

Pay: $200 per story, based on length
Deadlines: They have a variety of deadlines listed in their submission guidelines.

The "Voices of" series looks similar to the Chicken Soup and Cup of Comfort books.

If you've had a financial disaster, it may be cathartic to write an essay about it - and maybe even get paid for submitting to the series. There was a gut wrenching story on NPR yesterday about the locksmiths who come to change all the locks on foreclosed homes, and what owners leave behind.

If you are in dire financial straits, I'm so sorry. Not to sound goopy or anything, but I'm sending prayers out there for you.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Writing Conference Split-Personality Disorder: I Am Legion

Creative Commons Split Personality by Alcino

I'm back from the Missouri Writers' Guild Conference 2008, energized, inspired, and infected with half a dozen personalities.

Memoir personality wants to write a book about our childhood.
  • Magazine-article personality wants to pitch several ideas to American Profiles.

  • Non-fiction author personality wants to send off requested materials to the editor we met.

  • Fiction-author personality wants to get our novel's query letter right and send it out to agents.
The conference did what it was supposed to do. Conferencing is for learning, networking, support, and rejuvenation. And it keeps me away from the kitchen knives.

So what do I say to all these new personalities? Lots of people will say, reintegrate! Banish all the voices that compete with your main project! I say, embrace the crazies - just prioritize.

So listening to all my personalities, the most important thing is to get my non-fiction book proposal to the editor who requested it. Then while it's marinating on the darkling plane of editorial purgatory, I can listen to the next most important personality and get out some magazine query letters to prime the pump before I polish the fiction query.

What I don't want to do is forget any of the personalities, or they'll fade away along with their potential. So I'm makin' a list and checkin' it twice. . . sorry, Christmas personality took over for a minute.

So listen to the voices - they have some pretty good ideas. Moohoohahaha

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pictures From the Missouri Writers Guild Conference 2008

Loved the conference. Tomorrow I'll post on some of the highlights. But these are some pictures.

Upper left: Barbara Robinette Moss speaks at her workshop to an attentive audience.

Middle: Fellow Coffee and Critiquer and President of Saturday Writers, Tricia Sanders, gets one of her many writing awards for the evening.

Lower left: Donna Volkenannt, webmaster extraordinnaire of Saturday Writers and Coffee and Critiquer, gets one of several writing awards.

I hang out with great writers so it will rub off on me.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Two Journals Seeking Submissions: Fur Fables and Horror Stories

Creative Commons photo by Kevin Lawver

Dante’s Heart: A Journal of Myth, Fairytale, Folklore, and Fantasy is seeking reviews of classic werewolf movies, books, and short stories for a 2008 edition.

Word Count: 800 words or less
Deadline: June 15, 2008
No info on payment.

Southern Literary Messenger says Fantastic Horror is seeking new writers. Fantastic Horror publishes fiction, poetry, and art related to dark fantasy/sci fi.

From their site:
"In keeping with the site’s title, we prefer dark or dreamlike fantasy, horror and science fiction, with a sense of atmosphere and attention to detail." No pay for submissions yet.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Missouri Writers' Guild Opens Membership and New Website Debuts

Great news for all aspiring writers. The Missouri Writers' Guild is introducing tiered membership. Now more writers than ever can join the Guild. They also have a brand new look for their website.

Announcement from past President Margo Dill:

The Missouri Writers' Guild is proud to announce a new membership system. . . Tiered Membership--anyone who meets the requirements can join. You DON'T have to live in Missouri or have any ties to Missouri. You just have to want to network with hundreds of writers and belong to a growing and energized organization!

There will be four classes of membership:
Full (you need a book or 3 paid publications in magazines, newspapers, etc)

Associate (you need 1 publication--paid or unpaid, including self-published)

Student (any college student!)

Honorary (this is a nominated class of membership).

Dues range from $45 to $20, depending on your level of membership and if you are renewing or a first-time member. For more information, please see or contact

Hope to see you as an MWG member soon!

Past President--Margo Dill (

So essentially one publication will do it - paid or unpaid. Then you can upgrade your membership as you get paid publications. So join the Missouri Writers' Guild, network, learn, and enjoy the company of other writers just like you.

Friday Fun: Harry Potter Writing Contest

Amazon is sponsoring a Harry Potter writing contest that will transport a lucky fan aged 13 or older to England to get up close and personal with "The Tales of Beedle Bard," the limited edition Rowling book they bought at auction for a hefty sum.
Contestants must answer one of the following questions:

What songs do wizards use to celebrate birthdays?
What other sports do wizards play besides Quidditch?
What have you learned from the Harry Potter series that you use in everyday life?

There are two age categories:
18 and up

The contest runs from April 9-22, 2008. Semi-finalists will be chosen and then customers will vote on finalists and the Grand Prize Winner. The winner will get a trip to England for them and guest to read the coveted book for a weekend.

I am composing my wizarding birthday song now. . .

Thursday, April 10, 2008

BookEnds First 100 Words Contests for Romantic Suspense

Photo Creative Commons: The Butler Did It by Solidstate_

Today the new BookEnds first 100 words contest is for Romantic Suspense.

The rules are the same as the previous contests, but the deadline for this one is tomorrow, April 11th at 9 a.m. EST or 8:00 a.m. Central for us Midwesterners.

Good luck to everyone who enters.

Three Anthologies Seeking Submissions

Photo Creative Commons by Aussiegall

The Koester Content blog has info on three anthology projects seeking submissions.

They want stories about:
Life after the death of a child
Angels on earth (angels in everyday life)
Everyday Heroes - ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

How to Write Greeting Cards and Open Greeting Card Markets

Creative Commons Photo by M_Eriksson

Author Donna Gephart has a helpful guest blog from veteran greeting card writer Sandra Louden on how to write cards, plus card markets beyond Hallmark and American Greetings (they don't accept freelance submissions).

I also blogged last year about Linda Fulkerson's excellent primer on how to break in writing greeting cards. She attended the Erma Bombeck 2006 workshop and picked up detailed insider tips, including the best type of cards to pitch and how to present your card ideas.

Some Greeting Card Markets Open to Freelancers:

Blue Mountain Arts wants submissions about "friendship, family, special occasions, positive living" and other topics you might find in a greeting card. They pay $300 for poems used in greeting cards or $50 if it's used in an anthology. They are hosting a poetry contest with a June 30, 2008 deadline. No entry fee. First prize is $300, second is $150, and third is $50.

Melting Pot Gifts publishes cards with interracial themes.

Papyrus Greeting Cards accepts both artwork and writing (scroll down page for writers' guidelines). No info on pay rate. From their website: "Our text complements the variety of looks we offer: Fine art, whimsy, traditional, contemporary, photography and humor. Traditional or sentimental text is most often used in seasonal captions (Christmas, Easter, etc.). Papyrus also needs contemporary text that expresses common sentiments in fresh, conversational ways. Keep these texts short, simple and meaningful. The best rule for contemporary greetings is: Avoid cliches."

Warner Press publishes christian themed greeting cards (scroll down their page for greeting card submission guidelines). The pay $35 on acceptance.

Freedom Greeting Card Co. creates cards for the african-american market. They currently want "contemporary humor for the Cheers line and contemporary, sophisticated messages for Cappuccino and DeCaf lines."

Query on.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

WOW Magazine is Seeking Submissions

If you're headed for a conference soon (like the Missouri Writers' Guild Conference 2008) you might prospect for article ideas on writing retreats and conferences suggestions.

WOW-Women on Writing Magazine is seeking submissions for upcoming theme issues:

July 2008 - Writing Retreats and Conferences Suggestions: Interviews with retreat/conference founders, How to make the most out of a retreat, networking/promotion for writers, speaking at conferences. Deadline: May 15, 2008

August 2008 - Personal Writing Suggestions: (Craft of) Journaling, memoir writing, writing as therapy, poetry writing, personal essay writing. Deadline: June 17, 2008

St. Louis Suburban Journals Looking For Opinion Shapers Columnists

Perspectives II by Editor B Creative Commons

The Suburban Journals is looking for Opinion Shapers Columnists. You must submit a sample of your work, but you don't have to be published. They don't pay (sigh), but it can useful to getting first clips.

The deadline to apply is April 25, 2008 at 5 p.m.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Emmanuelle Alspaugh: Guest Agent for Missouri Writer's Guild Conference

The 2008 Missouri Writers Guild Conference starts Friday, so I'm profiling a few of the guests this week. If you're a procratinator and haven't signed up, you might want to email Eva Ridenour at and see if they still have space. One year I signed up at the door.

The cost for the general conference:
Guild Member $155
Chapter member $165
Non-member $179
Student $139 (enrolled in at least on college course for Spring)

Emmanuelle Alspaugh is a literary agent with Wendy Sherman Associates, Inc. She's looking for "literary and commercial fiction, memoir, and nonfiction relevant to contemporary issues." You can see her bio on Wendy Sherman's Website (scroll down a bit to see her entry). She joined the agency a year ago, so she may still be building her client list.

What kind of writing does she like? Check out some of her clients:

Note: She doesn't represent thrillers, horror, cozy mysteries, children's, health/diet/fitness, poetry, or screenplays.

Check out the agency's submission guidelines, so you'll be prepared after you meet her at the conference.

Literary Mama Blog Has Three Calls for Submissions

The Literary Mama blog is profiling three submission opportunities for female writers.

Three antholgies are seeking stories on the following topics:

Women and Poetry: Tips on Writing, Publishing, and Teaching
Milestones for Women: Our Defining Passages
Women Writing on Family: Writing, Publishing, and Teaching Tips by US Women Writers

It looks like the only payment is contributor's copies, but it might be a good clip.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday Freelance Link Salad - A Little Of This, A Little Of That

"Luke, I am your father" Creative Commons John Vetterli

Calling all the Star Trek fans who have a copy of the captain's chair in front of the t.v., all the Star Wars fans with Mr. Potato Head - Darth Tater (hey, he's cute. So are Spud Trooper and Artoo-Potatoo), and comic book fans a little too much into Power Girl. The true story quarterly Fray Magazine wants Geek stories. They'll take interviews with famous geeks too.

I sooooo qualify for this one. The deadline is this month - not sure when. And they don't pay. But you don't really have to pay us geeks to talk about our stuff, do ya?

And taking a wild 180, Writer Mama says Cup of Comfort is calling for submissions.

In the I-blinked-a-lot-when-I-read-this category, the World Wrestling Federation is launching WWE Magazine for kids 6-14. Yahoo is launching a new women's site for big girls age 25-34. (Please. You couldn't just round it off to 35?)

And in the electronic arena, is launching a Kindle-only edition of the pop culture mag for the much-publicized ereader while a new online magazine called The Wall Tweet Journal (no, I'm not kidding) is coming to help Twitter users make the most of their social networking.

According to The Knightly News blog, Christian Women Online is sponsoring a no entry fee contest called "Her Life Reflected" (click on the picture in the blog for details) about how a christian mom's life has reflected God. The deadline is April 21st.

Hope I hit at least one of your buttons. Now I'm off to buy Artoo Potatoo. I wouldn't want Darth Tater and Spud Trooper to get lonely.

Query on.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Welcome to Writer Mama Zine Readers!

Thanks to The Writer Mama Zine for naming us a "winning site!" Welcome to all its readers.

We're all about helping writers, so grab some coffee or tea (I don't start on the hard stuff until at least nine a.m.), and take a look at all the opportunities and writer info listed on our blog.

And I highly recommend checking out Christina's book. It has invaluable advice for getting started as a writing mama.

Quick and Dirty Tip For Organizing Computer Writing Files

Photo: Organize at Creative Commons

Between writing essays, novel chapters, articles, cover letters, short stories, and drafts of the note explaining why I snapped and killed everyone, I used to have a hell of a time finding anything after it fell off my "recent documents" list.

My current method seems to be working beautifully, so I thought I'd share. When saving computer files, I put a category name first, then give a few words of description on the subject so I know what it's about.

So under articles I have:
Article Harvey Girls
Article Horseradish
Article Top Ten Places to Hunt Fossils

Under essays I have:
essay my grandmother loved you with food
essay breastfeeding
essay london tube adventure
essay I suck as the toothfairy

Some of my other current categories include:
article idea
business card
cover letter
essay idea
press release
query letter
short story
short story idea
novel draft
novel idea

No one has to understand the description after the category name but me - thank god. And this system makes it easy to look up alphabetically in my files. So describe things the way your own twisty brain works after you put it in a category, and if you're the one reading it, you're golden.

The Lazy Way to Organize
Too busy to sit down and find all your old files and rename them? Every time you open a previously created piece of writing to work on it (or when you accidentally open the wrong file thinking it's the piece you're looking for), rename the sucker. Eventually most of your stuff will be refiled.

Warning: Don't describe files by the publication you're sending them to. I made this mistake early on and then ended up selling multiple articles to one publication. So "Article Missouri Life" didn't do me much good as an identifier after I had more than one accepted at the magazine. Stick to content descriptions. Then it doesn't matter if you send it multiple places; you'll still be able to find it.

And when an "essay idea" develops into a polished, heartbreaking work of staggeringly finished genius, I hit "save as" and change the category to "essay." There are probably better ways to do it, but this works for my lazy self. Anyone else got tips on figuring out filing your writing?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April and May Contest Deadlines from Poets and Writers

Just got my Poets and Writers Newsletter with a handy dandy link to contest deadlines for April and May. Poetry, fiction, short stories, books, chapbooks - they list contests for them all.

Alice is in Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors

A big Woohoo! goes out to Coffee and Critiquer Alice who will have her essay "Hidden Treasures" published in A Cup of Comfort for Breastcancer Survivors coming in September 2008.