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Friday, May 30, 2008

Writers Conference and Contest for Literary Nonfiction

True by pittaya Creative Commons
If you're writing memoir, true crime, sports stories or other journalistic nonfiction, you may want to check out The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. This year's conference is July 18-20, 2008 in Grapevine, Texas and past conferences have already attracted a lot of attention and powerhouse speakers.

Some of this year's speakers include:
N. Scott Momaday-1969 Pulitzer Prize Winner
Bob Shacochis, National Book Award Winner
Candice Millard, River of Doubt
John Burnett, NPR correspondent
Stella Chavez, writer, The Dallas Morning News
Susannah Charleson, The Scent of the Missing
Pam Colloff, writer, Texas Monthly
Lee Hancock, enterprise reporter, The Dallas Morning News
Nick Heil, The Dark Summit
Tim Madigan, writer, The Star-Telegram
Cathleen Medwick, contributing editor at O, the Oprah Magazine
Paul Meyer, writer, The Dallas Morning News
Ben Montgomery, writer, St. Petersburg Times
David Patterson, senior editor, Henry Holt & Co.
Brian Sweany, articles editor, Texas Monthly
Wright Thompson,
Andy Van De Voorde, Village Voice Media
Ken Wells, senior editor, Portfolio magazine
Alexandra Wolfe, writer, Portfolio magazine

You can find out more in their description of the conference. Their contest includes a $3000 first place prize for best manuscript and $12,000 in prizes for essay contest prizes (there are entry fees). Submissions for the Writing Contest and Workshops are due by June 13, 2008.

Last year's manuscript contest winner ended up with a six-figure advance from Houghton-Mifflin.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Missouri Poet Laureate Walter Bargen and St. Louis Writers Guild Poetry Contest

From the St. Louis Writers Guild:


On Saturday, June 7, from 10 am until noon, St. Louis Writers Guild will host WALTER BARGEN, Missouri Poet Laureate, who will present a talk titled "The First Line is the Poem." You do not want to miss this historic opportunity to meet our first Poet Laureate and also learn what he has to say about poetry.

This event will take place at Barnes & Noble-Crestwood, 9618 Watson Road, Crestwood, MO 63126. The presentation will include readings and books will be available for purchase and signing. Admission is free for SLWG members. The $5 fee for non-members will be fully credited toward dues if application is made within 30 days. Please help spread the word. We owe WALTER BARGEN a strong audience.

For information, visit: For a chance at a $10 gift card from Barnes & Noble, please register to attend at:

What better time to remind you that our annual Deane Wagner Poetry Contest is open for submissions now through June 14? This is one of our two legacy contests, having run for decades. It has brought in entries throughout the US and abroad and has been mentioned in many national magazines and on websites that feature reputable writing contests. (We consider this and our short story contest major assets of SLWG). Local writers have been greatly advantaged this year by the opportunities to attend the poetry program that was presented in April by the judge, and also by this coming event featuring Missouri's Poet Laureate. Printable guidelines are available at:

We hope to see you,
Claire Applewhite
Publicity Chair
Saint Louis Writers Guild

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Anthology News and Reviews Blog: Ghosts in the Machine and Middle School Stories

Photo by Rick Creative Commons

Looks like a nice blog for finding markets. Be sure to check it out.

Saturday Writers Hosts Critique Groups 101

Hey Blog Readers, be sure to say hello if you come to the panel this saturday:

Saturday Writers, the local chapter of the Missouri Writer’s Guild, will host a “Critique Groups 101” on Saturday, May 31, 2008 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

A panel of multi-published, award-winning writers, including Tricia Sanders, Tricia Grissom and Amy Harke-Moore, will share their experiences about belonging to critique groups.

Critique group discussion topics include: how to form one, how to find one, tips on giving and receiving critique, tips on running a critique group, online critique groups and online sources about critiquing.

Saturday Writers meets on the last Saturday of the month at 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. Annual dues are $15.
For more information, visit the Saturday Writer's website.

Hope to see you there.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Building Your Author Website

Once you get your book published, you'll need a phenomenal website to help publicize it. I've been lusting after the websites done by Authorbytes. They do online publicity for authors, including website design.

You can set up your own website before you get published, but once you get your contract signed and your advance deposited, I recommend investing in a professionally designed website.

I love the ones Authorbytes did for Doreen Orion's book Queen of the Road and Sam Walker's Fantasyland. They do sites for both fiction and nonfiction authors. Check out their portfolio to see more examples. I'm betting they're pretty pricey, though. They've done websites for some uber famous authors.

If you can't afford one of theirs, they recommend checking out the author website templates at, but you have to join the guild. Dues are $90 per year. Check out this example from children's author Toby Speed. Looks professional, heh?

Plan for promotion!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

First Annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Fiction Contest

Bourbon Street at Dusk by urbanshoregirl Creative Commons

The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival has announced its first annual contest for short fiction. The festival is in New Orleans on March 25-29, 2009.

Submit an unpublished story of up to 7,000 words by November 15, 2008. Only unpublished writers are eligible.

Entry fee: $20

1st Place: $1500, airfare and accommodations for the festival, a VIP festival pass, publication in the New Orleans Review, and a public reading

2nd Place: $200, festival pass, public reading

3rd Place: $100, festival pass, public reading
Whether or not you enter, the festival itself looks pretty cool. Check out this description.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Contest Deadlines From Poets and Writers May 15 - July 15

Closeup of pen by Stardust_ Creative Commons

Trying to decide what writing contests to submit to? Poets and Writers Magazine lists major contests by deadline date.

Here are the submission deadlines for writing contests that end May 15 - July 15.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Guideposts Writing Contest for Writers' Workshop

Faith by Lili Vieira de Carvalho Creative Commons

The Christian Writers Marketplace has deets on a Guideposts contest.

Fifteen writers will get a free week at the Guideposts Writers Workshop October 13 - 17 to study up on how to write for Guideposts.

Correction: The workshop is in Rye, New York and includes travel costs. Sounds like a great deal.

Submit a story (2000 words or less) by June 24, 2008 and explain a life-changing experience where faith made a difference.

Monday, May 19, 2008

How Do I Love Writing? Let Me Count The Ways

Heart in the Sky by WTL photos Creative Commons

I try not to spend too much of my day complaining about things. As a freelance writer, it's easy to get bogged down in the slow paychecks, unanswered query letters, and Methuselah-like pace of the publishing world.

But let's face it, climbing that pile of rejections and surviving to the summit can give you a spectacular view and make the barked shins and the oxygen deprivation worth it.

The BookEnds blog is inviting readers to comment on what they love about the writing biz, so it got me thinking.

If it was easy, would it be half as thrilling when an agent offers representation or you put your John Hancock on the line of a book contract? Methinks not. (Cue Eye of the Tiger music here). You are bloody but unbowed! You kept going! You deserve your success because you earned it, baby! Enough exclamation points.

And if you aren't there yet, think how great it will feel when you overcome the barricades.

So what do I love?
I love coming across an old essay I haven't seen in awhile and thinking "I wrote that? That's not half bad. Maybe I should write some more." I love seeing my byline. I love when people come up to me and say they liked me, they really, really liked me in that essay. It makes me giddy.

So what do you love about writing and getting published?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Brenda Novak's Diabetes Auction With Literary Flavor

Gavel by bloomsberries Creative Commons

Many of my favorite blogging agents, editors and bestselling authors are offering critiques and other goodies for Brenda Novak's auction to raise money for diabetes research.

This includes a lunch with Ridley Pearson here in St. Louis and this charm necklace designed for writers which I'm drooling over.

Or how about ten months of mentoring with the fog city divas or a website design? Or bid on an agent critique for your manuscript from Kristin Nelson, Jessica Faust of BookEnds, Lois Winston of the Ashley Grayson Agency, Meredith Bernstein, Jeff Herman or many more. They have editors auctioning their services and plenty of gift baskets with books and other fun items.

Most auction go through May 31, 2008, but read carefully as some are one day auctions and some end a few days earlier.
So raise money for a great cause and get a gift for the writer in you.

This post is for you Grandma Vera.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Book Review: Stephenie Meyer's The Host

Reading Stephenie Meyer’s book The Host is one of those “oh-crap-I-stayed-up-till-four-in-the-morning” experiences.

Her premise is a refreshing take on the alien body snatchers idea. The Host is about an alien named The Wanderer who comes to earth to be implanted in the body of a human host and live out a lifetime on our bucolic ball of blue.

Most human hosts hit the road into oblivion after being taken over, but The Wanderer’s host, Melanie, is not willing to give up the ghost, so to speak. Melanie’s influence is so strong, she infects her alien body thief with love for her former boyfriend and younger brother. As a result, they set off in a dangerous search for their lost family.

Meyers tells the story effectively in the alien’s perspective, and she does make her sympathetic. But call me crazy, I was rooting more for the humans. My view of the ending was more cynical than my daughter’s. I was looking for some cosmic payback that didn’t happen.

My fourteen-year-old loved the book. She cried several times and adored the ending. But it’s quite different from the Twilight series, so don’t go looking for Edward here. This book is aimed more at an older audience than the tween and teen acolytes.

I wanted more discussion of why humans weren’t “worthy.” Yeah, I get that we are violent sumsabitches. But a little more reminding of things like the holocaust and Indian massacres would have made me accept The Wanderers blithe willingness to take over the bodies of other creatures in the name of stopping the madness.

I also wanted to see the humans make more fun of the alien’s oh-so-civilized behavior. There’s only a passing mention in a few examples, like a sporting event where the players politely discuss a penalty and try to blame it on themselves rather than the opposing player. The Stepford behavior was ripe for the picking in terms of satire.

Still, I’d read a sequel, and I love how us insidious humans alter the aliens until their more a hybrid of us and them. Our human feelings are too strong to fade away like our minds do, so the earthlings triumph in the end. If you don’t count the having your body taken over part.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Me Write Funny Someday - WOW Magazine on Writing Humor

howeird08_13 by celinet Creative Commons

Crazy busy this week, so I'm mostly linking to stuff I think everyone would like. For example, WOW Women on Writing's May/June issue is on humor writing.

We could all use a laugh, and not just the hysterical one that bubbles up at the gas pump every time I fill my teeny tiny gas tank with $40 worth of gas. AHHHHGGGG!

So check out their issue full of humor writing tips, including C. Hope Clark's column on where to sell your funny stuff.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How to Submit to an Anthology: Advice From An Editor

Laurel Snyder has a great split personality post over at's Fiction Writing Channel on how to subit to an anthology, interspersed with advice on editing one. She is the editor of Half/Life: Jew-ish Tales from Interfaith Homes.

My favorite piece of advice: Submit to an anthology that attracts a different demographic than your own. So if you're a guy, look for an anthology on love stories or postpartum depression. They're looking for a variety of different perspectives, and your story will stand out.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Good News for Children's Writers

Reading Child by Busymommy Creative Commons

Nathan Bransford has a post on publishing trends this week with good news for authors of children's books. Jane Friedman of HarperCollins says book sales for kids are up 50% at the company.

Get busy, authors. The kids are waiting.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Host (With The Most) by Stephenie Meyer

So I received my review copy of The Host today. Unfortunately I have that unpredictable creature known as a fourteen-year-old daughter living in my house.

Stupid me, I forgot to hide the book. Before I knew it, she was in a corner, clutching the book, and growling at me to keep back. Sigh. Fortunately she reads quickly. I expect her to be done by Sunday, so I can start reading it.

She and I are both fans of the Twilight books, so I'm looking forward to this new series aimed more at adults. But from the squeals of delight I'm hearing from the other room, it still appeals to my young adult.

Stay tuned for the review and check out this utterly perfect trailer for the movie based on the first book in the Twilight series.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Big Whoo hoo Goes Out to Coffee and Critiquer Donna

Donna's story "Welcome Home" will be appearing in A Cup of Comfort for Military Families this October. Way to go, Donna!

Memoir Markets and Antholgies Seeking Submissions

Camargue horse by Wolfgang Staudt Creative Commons

The blog 3 questions. . . and Answers has a great post on Memoir Markets plus news of an antholgy from Seal Press that wants stories about women and horses.

Sorry - The call for submissions on rape culture has expired. My bad. I didn't read it carefully.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Publishing Trend: Hot Historical Romance

Photo by ezioman Creative Commons

This post is for a lovely lady named Barbara who I had dinner with at OWFI. She said she was working on a historical romance, and I remembered reading they were hot, so I've tracked down the agent posts that talk about the trend toward historicals.

Kristin Nelson's blog post says she had several editors plead for historical romances and literary agency BookEnds LLC had a similar post.

And agent Jenny Rappaport of the L. Perkins Agency is specifically looking for them according to her page on

Good luck, Barbara and let me know when you get an agent or sell your book so I can post it here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Writing Contest for Essay, Poetry, and Short Fiction

"Write" by the trial Creative Commons

New Letters, the University of Missouri-Kansas City's prestigious literary magazine, is sponsoring writing contests for essay, poetry, and short fiction submissions.

The contests:
The $1,500 New Letters Prize for Poetry
for the best group of three to six poems

The $1,500 Dorothy Churchill Cappon Prize for the Essay
for the best essay (not to exceed 8,000 words)

The $1,500 Alexander Patterson Cappon Prize for Fiction
for the best short story (not to exceed 8,000 words)

Entry fee: $15 (but this includes a subscription to New Letters)

Postmark Deadline: May 18, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008

Platform for Fiction Writers?

Diving platform by gva_pix Creative Commons

I've returned from the OWFI conference in Oklahoma with major bags under my eyes and updated info on the world of publishing.

One of the surprising things I heard is that some agents are starting to look more at platform for fiction writers in query letters. With the tougher economy, fewer books get published, so they need a way to weed out the less experienced.

Platform has generally been a non-fiction requirement. It's basically your marketability as an author and includes several categories:

Previous Publishing History (shows someone else thought you could write)
ad copy
anything else someone paid you to write
awards/contests (List only the most important - and not everything since 3rd grade)

Groups You Can Market To:
memberships in large organizations were you can market your book
frequent speaking engagements where you can sell your book
a website or blog where you can sell your book to readers
The Walton family are your best buds and will put it in Wally-World
Anywhere else you can sell your book

Level of Education/Fame:
College degree
Sudden Media Darling/Hero
Expert in your field

Your Activities:
Writing Group Memberships/Positions
Critique Group Participation
How mediagenic you are (How well you can talk on radio or television - so if you have examples, mention them).
Subscribing to Media info sources like Publisher's Weekly and Mediabistro

Basically it's anything that proves your writing was worthy of publication previously and/or you can market your book and yourself to lots of people. Don't forget to make your willingness to market clear.

I've published with the Travel Channel,, and various food and lifestyle magazines. As a college English teacher, I'm an experienced speaker and frequently address local writing groups. As a Missouri Writers' Guild member, I attend yearly conferences. I have contacts with Rotary groups, I write reviews for (marketing website), I host the Coffee and Critique blog, and I serve as publicity chair for Saturday Writers.

If you haven't published anywhere yet, don't panic. Good writing can still trump lack of resume - but if you're up against other good writers, it may give you an advantage to build a platform that raises you above the madding crowd.

Has anyone else heard this mentioned at conferences? Is it a widespread trend to consider platform for fiction?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

OWFI Conference and River Styx Poetry Contest

I'm off to the Oklahoma Writers Federation Conference, so I may not get to post tomorrow.

Don't forget the deadline for the 2008 River Styx Poetry Contest is May 31, 2008. It has a large entry fee, but it's a well-respected contest and a correspondingly large prize.

From the website (bold is mine):

"A prize of $1,500 and publication in River Styx is given annually for a group of poems. All entries will be considered for publication. Submit up to three poems totaling no more than 14 pages with a $20 entry fee, which includes a one-year subscription to River Styx, by May 31, 2008.

Include name and address on cover letter only.
River Styx, International Poetry Contest
3547 Olive Street, Suite 107
St. Louis, MO 63103."