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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Food Porn 1: Hot Chocolate

Photo by Pocheco Creative Commons

I adore food. It has been my friend, my entertainment, my everything. This is why I am fat. But I'm tired of being fat, ergo the liquid diet I am starting on January 5th. Yes, I am a cliche, a New Year dieter. Get over it.

As a result I've been saying goodbye to all my favorite foods before I spend six months sucking sustenance through a straw and never consuming most of them again. I am not pigging out or overeating; I am just saying goodbye to some friends who've gotten me through, while killing me slowly, of course. I usually avoid these foods at all costs. Seeking them out is a strange, but freeing experience.

My food porn is not everyone's. I like a lot of foodie politically incorrect stuff like boxed mac n cheese. But it's my farewell party. Enter at your own risk, but feel free to argue with me in the comments if you just can't stand my version of gustatory gusto.

My friend Lisa calls this fat girl porn. So don't read this if you're on a diet as I wouldn't want to be responsible for the consequences.

Lately I am on a hot chocolate retrospective. It must be made with milk, people, not water. But other than that, I'm not much of a purist about stirring up cocoa on the stove. Instant works perfectly, especally with the addition of lots of real whipped cream. It's like drinking liquid silk. Chocolate flavored.

Perfect hot chocolate sleeps beneath a layer of cream, so every time I tip my unapolgetically Christmassy mug, steaming cocoa lava sneaks out from under the sweet, sweet cream, stinging my tongue while the top layer soothes with coolness. Hot and cold, chocolate and vanilla, darkness and light. It pleasures you with warmth: hands, lips, teeth, tongue. Sex, in a cup.

The smell of the steam is every snow day you ever had as a kid, warm clothes fresh from the dryer, fuzzy socks when your feet are cold.

I drink it halfway down till the foam is gone, and then I go to the fridge for more whipped sin. It's the only way to be sure I get the optimum experience all the way through. I sip it without guilt, without apology, without all the hangups I've had my whole life about any fattening food. Then I look at the chocolate sludge left in the bottom and smile...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Skirt Magazine Seeking Essays for 2010


Hope everyone is having a great holiday season; here's a little something to think of for the new year.

Skirt has posted their list of essay themes for 2010.
Submit your essay on the first of the month before the one you're aiming for. So if you want it to go in February's "I Heart...." issue, submit by January 1.

Check their contributor's guidelines for details, and then read "The 1 Second Rule" to get a feel for their style.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Harlequin Under Fire For New Self-Publishing and Critique Services


Harlequin first announced a new ebooks division called Carina Press, and now they've started a self-publishing arm and a critque service that leaves a bit of a bad taste considering all the aspiring authors court them. Read about it and their revoked RWA status at Agent Kristen Nelson's blog.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

St. Charles Community College Coffeehouse Open-Mic


Friday, November 13 is the next Coffeehouse Open-Mic Night at St. Charles Community College.

I am hoping to make this one, so say hello if you come. But all the white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies are mine! Hands off!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Moving Day!

Okay, actually that was yesterday. Holy cheerios, it's been a long haul, but I am finally in the process of moving into my new home.

So please excuse me from blogging for the rest of the week, and posts may be sporadic after that. I hope to have at least one a week, but we shall have to see how well my new internet hook up works :) Thanks to everyone who's been rooting me on in the great house search. I'm home.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Alimentum: Literary Magazine About Food

As we head into the great season of eating, I thought I'd feature a lit mag dedicated to gustatory delights and frights, Alimentum. They publish food-related fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry. Right now they are hosting a poetry contest.

Deadline: December 1, 2009
Prize: $500 and publication
Entry Fee: $15 (Includes one year subscription)
Submissions: Via Snailmail Only
Alimentum
P.O. Box 210028
Nashville, TN 37221

Here are some menupoems they have online.

I could wax poetic about food, no problem. Now where is that verse I wrote about bread?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Borders Open-Door Poetry Video Series Writing Advice


If you haven't seen Borders Open Door Poetry Series, check it out. The music combined with poets reading their work is balm for the soul. They are on episode seven, so if you have seen it, but haven't checked back, there are new clips.

In this latest episode, Patricia Smith also gives writing advice about the most valuble tool a writer has in this short clip. Check out her poem "Spinning Till You Get Dizzy."  Beware. You may get stuck there for awhile. It's like potato chips; you can't eat just one.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Change in Meeting Site for Coffee and Critique - Rendezvous Cafe

From Donna:

Hi Everyone,

First, I apologize to everyone who did not get the word last week that we were trying a new place or whose names I left of the e-mail about the meeting change, especially Doyle and Darrell (I'm not sure about your spelling) who showed up at Barnes and Noble.

Tomorrow we are again going to meet at the Rendezvous Cafe on Main Street in O'Fallon from 10 am to noon.

If you plan to read, please bring at least 10 copies--no more than 5 pages, double-spaced.

If I've forgotten to include anyone, please send to them.

Thanks. Hope to see you tomorrow.

Donna

http://donnasbookpub.blogspot.com/

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Open-Mic Coffeehouse This Week


St. Charles Community College is hosting their first open-mic coffeehouse of the Fall semester this Thursday, September 24, 2009. Come by and share your work (3-5 minutes worth) or just sit back and soak up the inspiration. Bonus - free coffee and cookies. This event is free and open to the public.

The SCC Coffeehouse meets from 7-9 p.m. in the auditorium of the Daniel J. Conoyer Social Sciences Building.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Don't Forget the Writer Mama Book Giveaway Going on Now


Christina Katz is still distributing free books over at the Writer Mama blog with her Back-to-School Giveaways. Pop over and leave your comment of at least 50 words on the question of the day, and you're eligible to win.

Today's book is Chapter by Chapter: Discover the Dedication and Focus You Need to Write the Book of Your Dreams by Heather Sellers.

As the McMann would say, you can't win if you don't enter...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Glimmer Train Contest for Unfinished Stories: Best Start Fiction Contest

If you're like me, finishing a short story can seem an almost insurmountable challenge. The pressure to get it all done perfectly can be paralyzing. But Glimmer Train has a contest for the story stuck among us.

Their Best Start Fiction Contest asks for an excerpt from your story. It doesn't have to be a finished work! Send in the part you have perfected. I have no more excuses. Damn you, Glimmer Train.

This is an outstanding literary magazine, and if you're a short story writer, I heartily recommend you subscribe to see the great work out there today. I'm off to renew mine.

Contest Deadlines are Midnight Pacific Time:
1st Contest Period: September 1 - September 30
Next Contest Period: December 1 - December 31

Length: 1,000 words maximum

Reading Fee: $10 per story

Prize: $50 for the best 50 story excerpts

From the website:
"Best Start is meant to encourage new writers to tackle that story!
This category is different from our others in that the piece should be an engaging and coherent narrative, but it does not need to be a complete story; it needs to be an important part of a story in progress. You could think of it as a writing sample, but we hope you'll feel free to reach a bit. Maybe you're experimenting with a new voice, developing a character, working on clarity in a complex bit of plot or trying to make your dialogue believable and significant. You could be playing with point of view, working to build tension, or looking for a satisfying ending. Or you might be two pages into something brand new.

What we want is to read is an engaging slice of a story you're excited about writing.
All pieces should be original fiction and not have appeared in a print publication.
No fiction for children, please.
It's fine to submit more than one piece."

Start your submission here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dirt is Good For You Now Available on Amazon


Yeah! Dirt is Good For You, the book with my essay in it, is now available for order on Amazon.com.

Here's to "bad parents" everywhere.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Children's Writing Workshop from WOW: Women on Writing

Here's an online workshop opportunity from WOW Women on Writing taught by my writer pal Margo Dill.

WRITING FOR CHILDREN: Everything You Need to Know About Short Stories, Articles, and Fillers by Margo L. Dill

START DATE: Wednesday, September 30, 2009

DURATION: 7 weeks

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This class will teach the basics of writing for children’s magazines, crafting short stories, nonfiction articles, poetry, and fillers. The student will come away with a short story and cover letter, nonfiction query letter, and a filler or poem. She will also have a list of potential markets, fitting her manuscripts. The instructor will also share an organizational tool for submissions and information on finding other children’s writers and networking.

COST: $200

Not a children's writer? They also have a ton of other online workshops to choose from including fiction and magazine writing classes. Scroll down to see the choices.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Researchers Say Zombies Would be Tough Opponents


Some of you have read my WIP and know I have a thing for zombie lore, so this story made me grin. Some Canadian researchers have studied how a zombie infestations should be fought. Get out your bats and shotguns ladies and gentlemen, or we are all doomed.

I recommend you prepare here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Kind of Year It's Been

I have of late--but wherefore I know not--lost all my mirth, forgone all
custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily
with my disposition that this goodly frame, the
earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most
excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave
o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted
with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to
me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.

Like Hamlet, I am whiner.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Writer Mama Giveaways Start Tuesday

I am afraid this post will be brief. I've been a bit under the weather with the nasty bug that's been going around.

But I wanted to remind everyone that Christina Katz Annual Back-to-School Book Giveaways are coming. Starting Tuesday, September 1, 2009 she will be giving away a ton of great books, mostly on writing. You can find the list on her blog. I've won before and so can you. Just stop by an leave a comment on each day's post for your chance to win.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Think Outside the Bridge?

As an aspiring writer, I spend mega amounts of time reading about the right way to create novels, essays, and query letters. What should the exact word count be on that young adult novel? What kind of font should I use to submit my manuscript?

Then someone sent me a picture of this spectacular water bridge, (scroll down a bit to see it) and I laughed with the sheer joy of seeing something so creative. I mean, when you think of building materials for a bridge, water isn't generally numero uno on the list. Sometimes I forget that breaking-the-rules creative part in striving to do things the "correct" way.

Cool bridge. 

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Win a Restaurant in Essay Contest

Ever dream of owning your own restaurant? Kyle Caballero is offering the public the chance to win his in an essay contest.

For the $200 entry fee you get to explain in 250 words why you should own a restaurant. The winner gets Caballero's Landeck Tavern in Landeck, OH. They will start accepting entries on Monday, August 24, 2009.

The deadline is October 31, 2009 and the contest will be judged by "an independent group of journalists." You can check out more about it on his website winmyrestaurant.com. The winner will be informed on November 25, 2009. Be sure to read the official rules if you're interested.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Christian Romance Publisher Seeking Submissions

ChristianWriters.com reports that publisher Torn Veil Books is seeking christian romance submissions.

Looks like a new company, so you might want to do some research or wait to see what they first publish. They do clearly outline their royalty structure.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dirt is Good For You

I am happy to announce my Babble.com essay "Straight to the Bottle" will be available in a collection of parenting essays called Dirt is Good for You starting September 9. It's available for preorder on Amazon.com right now if you want to check it out. 

If you ever felt like you screwed up with your kids, this book is a great little guilt-reliever. If you've never felt that way, well this book will horrify your socks off and you shouldn't read it. It's a collection of the popular "Bad Parent" columns Babble.com has published over the last few years.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Do You Really Want to Be in A Critique Group? Really?

It's critique week! Seeing lots of great posts around the blogosphere on critique groups and here is another over at Warriorwriter's Blog about what how a serious writer conducts themselves at critique vs the accolade-gathering, I'm-not-really-here-to-crit-anyone else writer. 

I love the analogy with Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares show. I haven't seen it, but now I must watch some episodes.

Monday, August 10, 2009

How to Give and Take Critiques

Sunrise by Tricia Grissom
Good morning.

Check out this excellent guest post from Rick Daley over on Nathan Bransford's blog about the do's and don'ts of critiques. Love the sandwich approach.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How to Write When you Despair of Being a Writer

Write like you are an adolescent and the words burn you like acid, the fumes rising out of you the only way to stave off anger and despair and the angst of growing into yourself.

Write like you are a woman with breast cancer who survived. So the woman with a lump the next month or the next year or next decade knows that you lived, that you breathe and go on and she will too.

Write like they’ve dropped you in a deep, dark hole and your words are the only light rising out of it, the only breath that might set you free. Write like your countrymen have no voice and yours are the only words floating up to heaven that tell they are tortured and raped and buried in the deep places of the earth. Write so your political leaders will scream and call for your blood, so they label you a traitor and hunt you.

Write like you are a young mother with postpartum depression, and the way your doctors tried to cure you almost drove you mad. Write so they will see it and change how they treat other women.

Write like you are founding a country based on equality, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and you want others to know about it. Write so its citizens will fight for it and cling to its ideals in good times and bad.

Write like the President will see it. Like he will change environmental policy forever because of the words you create, the urgency. Write what you learned about history so he can design his government in the best way.

Write so that you can show how all men are created equal, and women too. Write so they can see you are smart and strong, not less because you are a slave, or a woman, or a jew or a white man who doesn’t get it. Write because it is a weapon and a benediction, because it will end a war and bind up a nation’s wounds.

Write so you can tell us how it was in the camps, in the attic, in the small quiet spaces no one sees but you.

Write so we can see each other for the first time and for the thousandth. Show us we are not alone. Write because the words are so powerful they burst from your skin like ripe fruit. Like yours is the last pen in the world, with the last bit of ink, and generations to come will see your words and do better.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Breastfeeding Essay Contest for Illinois and Missouri Moms


St. John's Mercy is celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with an essay contest. I'm going to editorialize here and say my experience with breastfeeding is probably not what they are looking for, and women shouldn't feel guilty if breastfeeding didn't work out for them. Oh, and don't forget to read the rules. Essays shouldn't be longer than 300 words and the contest is only open to moms in Illinois and Missouri (see the list of eligible counties in the official rules.

From the website:
How does it work?

Mothers and mothers-to-be submit essays on the topic, "What breastfeeding means to me”.

Can I still play if the contest has already started?
Yes. Submissions will be taken from July 23 to August 7. Finalists will be chosen on August 10. Voting for the finalists is open from August 11 – 21.

Are there prizes?
Yes. The essay writer with the most votes will receive her choice of either a Medela Pump ‘n Style Advanced electric breast pump (value $289) from St. John’s Mercy Pharmacy or a family portrait package (value $200), courtesy of Bella Baby Photography.

First runner up receives either a breast pump or portrait package.

Second runner up receives a one hour lactation consultation (value $45) with a certified St. John’s Mercy lactation consultant.

Third runner up receives a nursing camisole (value $40) courtesy of 9 Months in Style boutique.

Date/Times
All times are in Central Time

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Call for Submissions: Superhero Poetry

Superheros by Falashad

Catrambo reports a superhero anthology is seeking poetry exploring our love of all those who have secret bases and terrific tights. No info on compensation, but it sounds like a fun theme.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Saturday Writers Workshop and Writing Contest 2009

Saturday Writers is holding its annual fall workshop in October 2009 and hosting a writing contest open to workshop attendees. You can register online and pay with paypal, or print your application and send it in.

For Early Bird registration by October 1, 2009
SW members: $50
MWG chapter members and OWL Members: $60
Non-members: $75
Student (with valid I.D.) $50
At Door: $75

Writing Contest
Entry Type: Short story, Essay, Non-fiction article up to 3000 words
Entry fee: $5
Prizes: First Place $100
Second Place $35
Third Place $15
Deadline: October 1, 2009
Rule: Open only to workshop participants, work may have been previously published

Workshop Details
From the website:
"October 24 - "Vision, Voice and Viewpoint." Acclaimed writer Pat Carr will headline our annual workshop.
 Pat Carr’s twelve books of fiction include The Women in the Mirror, winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award, If We Must Die, in the 2003 PEN book awards, and The Death of a Confederate Colonel, published by the University of Arkansas Press. Her more than one hundred short stories have been published in such notable publications as... Southern Review, Yale Review, Best American Short Stories...

ForeWord magazine named Pat Carr's, The Death of a Confederate Colonel, one of the top university press books of 2008, praising Carr's economic narrative as being precise and dramatic.

Regina Williams, publisher and editor of Storyteller Magazine, will also give a presentation about writing for Storyteller. During the workshop, Regina will take pitches from attendees.

Regina Williams, editor of Storyteller Magazine will speak in the morning about how to submit your short story, essay or poem to any magazine or anthology. She’ll tell you what to include in your query, and what to avoid. Regina will also be taking pitches throughout the day.

This will be a hands-on workshop, limited to the first 50 people. A workbook will be provided so bring nothing but a sharpened pencil and your enthusiasm. (Lunch on your own.)"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

New Coffee and Critique Schedule - Days Only

"Clock" by Darren Hester
The Coffee and Critique Writers Group has gone to daytime meetings only. Unfortunately the evening group gave up the ghost. So no more trying to remember whether it's a day meeting or evening meeting this week. All meetings will be during the day from 10:00 a.m. to noon, every Tuesday at Barnes and Noble Bookstore in St. Peters, MO.

I will actually be there Tuesday for the first time in a long while, so I'm looking forward to getting back into critique. Hope to see you there.

If you're interested in trying out the group, check out this blog entry on our basic format.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Harlequin Romance Writing Contest 2009

Jennifer AILee of the Las Vegas Writing Examiner has info on a romance writing contest for Harlequin. Submit your first chapter (5000 words or less) and a two-page synposis aimed at the Harlequin Presents or Modern Heat lines for a chance to win.

Deadline: November 2, 2009
Entry fee: None
First Prize: A Mills and Boon editor for a year
Two Runners-up: Critique of chapter and editorial consultation

As always, check the fine print before entering.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An Interview With Christina Katz of Get Known Before the Book Deal


An Interview with Christina Katz 

Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform (Writer’s Digest Books). She started her platform “for fun” seven years ago and ended up on “Good Morning America.” Christina teaches e-courses on platform development and writing nonfiction for publication. Her students are published in national magazines and land agents and book deals. Christina has been encouraging reluctant platform builders via her e-zines for five years, has written hundreds of articles for national, regional, and online publications, and is a monthly columnist for the Willamette Writer. A popular speaker at writing conferences, writing programs, libraries, and bookstores, she hosts the Northwest Author Series in Wilsonville, Oregon. She is also the author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (Writer’s Digest Books).

Q: What is a platform?

CK: Long story short: Your platform communicates your expertise to others, and it works all the time so you don’t have to. Your platform includes your Web presence, any public speaking you do, the classes you teach, the media contacts you’ve established, the articles you’ve published, and any other means you currently have for making your name and your future books known to a viable readership. If others already recognize your expertise on a given topic or for a specific audience or both, then that is your platform.

A platform-strong writer is a writer with influence. Get Known explains in plain English, without buzzwords, how any writer can stand out from the crowd of other writers and get the book deal. The book clears an easy-to-follow path through a formerly confusing forest of ideas so any writer can do the necessary platform development they need to do.

Q: Why is platform development important for writers today?

CK: Learning about and working on a solid platform plan gives writers an edge. Agents and editors have known this for years and have been looking for platform-strong writers and getting them book deals. But from the writer’s point-of-view, there has not been enough information on platform development to help unprepared writers put their best platform forward.

Now suddenly, there is a flood of information on platform, not all necessarily comprehensive, useful or well organized for folks who don’t have a platform yet. Writers can promote themselves in a gradual, grounded manner without feeling like they are selling out. I do it, I teach other writers to do it, I write about it on an ongoing basis, and I encourage all writers to heed the trend. And hopefully, I communicate how in a practical, step-by-step manner that can serve any writer. Because ultimately, before you actively begin promoting yourself, platform development is an inside job requiring concentration, thoughtfulness and a consideration of personal values.

Q: How did you come to write Get Known Before the Book Deal?

CK: I already had a lot of momentum going when I got the deal for a very specific audience. I wrote a column on the topic for the Willamette Writer’s newsletter. Then I started speaking on platform. When I gave my presentation, “Get Known Before the Book Deal,” at the Writer’s Digest/BEA Writer’s Conference in May 2007, Phil Sexton, one of my publisher’s sales guys, saw it and suggested making the concept into a book. Coincidentally, I was trying to come up with an idea for my second book at that time and had just struck out with what I thought were my three best ideas. My editor, Jane Friedman agreed with Phil. That was two votes from people sitting on the pub board. They converted the others with the help of my proposal, and Get Known got the green light.

Q: Why was a book on platform development needed?

CK: Writers often underestimate how important platform is and they often don’t leverage the platform they already have enough. At every conference I presented, I took polls and found that about 50 percent of attendees expressed a desire for a clearer understanding of platform. Some were completely in the dark about it, even though they were attending a conference in hopes of landing a book deal. Since book deals are granted based largely on the impressiveness of a writer’s platform, I noticed a communication gap that needed to be addressed.

My intention was that Get Known would be the book every writer would want to read before attending a writer’s conference, and that it would increase any writer’s chances of landing a book deal whether they pitched in-person or by query. As I wrote the book, I saw online how this type of information was being offered as “insider secrets” at outrageous prices. No one should have to pay thousands of dollars for the information they can find in my book for the price of a paperback! Seriously. You can even ask your library to order it and read it for free.

Q: What is the key idea behind Get Known Before the Book Deal?

CK: Getting known doesn’t take a lot of money, but it does take an in-depth understanding of platform, and then the investment of time, skills and consistent effort to build one. Marketing experience and technological expertise are also not necessary. I show how to avoid the biggest time and money-waster, which is not understanding who your platform is for and why – and hopefully save writers from the confusion and inertia that can result from either information overload or not taking the big picture into account before they jump into writing for traditional publication.

Often writers with weak platforms are over-confident that they can impress agents and editors, while others with decent platforms are under-confident or aren’t stressing their platform-strength enough. Writers have to wear so many hats these days, we can use all the help we can get. Platform development is a muscle, and the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Anyone can do it, but most don’t or won’t because they either don’t understand what is being asked for, or they haven’t overcome their own resistance to the idea. Get Known offers a concrete plan that can help any writer make gains in the rapidly changing and increasingly competitive publishing landscape.

Q: What is the structure of the book and why did you choose it?

CK: Writer Mama was written in small, easy-to-digest chunks so busy new moms could stick it in a diaper bag and read it in the nooks and crannies of the day. Get Known is a bit more prosaic, especially in the early chapters. Most of the platform books already out there were only for authors, not writers or aspiring authors. To make platform evolution easy to comprehend, I had to dial the concepts back to the beginning and talk about what it’s like to try and find your place in the world as an author way before you’ve signed a contract, even before you’ve written a book proposal. No one had done that before in a book for writers. I felt writers needed a context in which to chart a course towards platform development that would not be completely overwhelming.

Introducing platform concepts to writers gives them the key information they need to succeed at pitching an agent either via query or in-person, making this a good book for a writer to read before writing a book proposal. Get Known has three sections: section one is mostly stories and cautionary tales, section two has a lot of to-do lists any writer should be able to use, and section three is how to articulate your platform clearly and concisely so you won’t waste a single minute wondering if you are on the right track.

Q: At the front of Get Known, you discuss four phases of the authoring process. What are they?

CK: First comes the platform development and building phase. Second comes the book proposal development phase (or if you are writing fiction, the book-writing phase). Third, comes the actual writing of the book (for fiction writers this is likely the re-writing of the book). And finally, once the book is published, comes the book marketing and promoting phase.

Many first-time authors scramble once they get a book deal if they haven’t done a thorough job on the platform development phase. Writers who already have a platform have influence with a fan base, and they can leverage that influence no matter what kind of book they write. Writing a book is a lot easier if you are not struggling to find readers for the book at the same time. Again, agents and editors have known this for a long time.
Q: What are some common platform mistakes writers make?

CK: Here are a few:

• They don’t spend time clarifying who they are to others.
• They don’t zoom in specifically on what they offer.
• They confuse socializing with platform development.
• They think about themselves too much and their audience not enough.
• They don’t precisely articulate all they offer so others get it immediately.
• They don’t create a plan before they jump online.
• They undervalue the platform they already have.
• They are overconfident and think they have a solid platform when they have only made a beginning.
• They become exhausted from trying to figure out platform as they go.
• They pay for “insider secrets” instead of trusting their own instincts.
• They blog like crazy for six months and then look at their bank accounts and abandon the process as going nowhere.

I’ll stop there. Suffice it to say that many writers promise publishers they have the ability to make readers seek out and purchase their book. But when it comes time to demonstrate this ability, they can’t deliver.

My mission is to empower writers to be 100 percent responsible for their writing career success and stop looking to others to do their promotional work for them. Get Known shows writers of every stripe how to become the writer who can not only land a book deal, but also influence future readers to plunk down ten or twenty bucks to purchase their book. It all starts with a little preparation and planning. The rest unfolds from there.

Q: Couldn’t any author have written this book? Why you?

CK: I have built a career over the past decade empowering writers. I’ve developed and built my own platform as a writing-for-traditional-publication specialist, and I’ve worked with others as a writing and platform-development instructor. Many of the people I’ve been working with are landing book deals and while the other hundred-or-so writers I work with a year are developing their skills, I notice patterns of behavior—what leads to success, where writers get stuck, and how I can be helpful in these rapidly changing times in the industry.

I’ve witnessed too many writers, who were off to a great start, hopping online and quickly becoming very lost. I started to write about platform in Writer Mama, How To Raise A Writing Career Alongside Your Kids, but I quickly noticed that more details on platform development were desperately needed. My platform is based on helping others. I have a vested interest in seeing the people I work with—and those who read my book—succeed. Writers are my tribe.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Alice Muschany's Opinion Shaper Column "Whiplash, Anyone?"

Congrats to Coffee and Critiquer Alice Muschany who has just become an opinion shaper columnist for the Suburban Journals. Her first column, "Whiplash, Anyone?" describes her adventures at a theme park with the grandkids. Very funny stuff. So for some Friday Fun, check it out.

Alice is also having a book signing Saturday, July 18 at the Rendevouz Cafe and Wine Bar in O'Fallon, MO. She will be signing A Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors which includes her touching essay "Hidden Treasures." So stop in and say hello. The sandwiches are awesome. I recommend "The Frenchman." Mmmmmm.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Esquire Writing Contest

Mental Health for Writers has a great post on an Esquire writing contest. You can win $2500 for your fiction story. And no entry fee. The deadline is August 1, 2009.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Samhain Publisher Seeks Angel and Demon Stories

The Shepherds and Angels by Aussiegall

Nice Mommy-Evil Editor reports that romance E publisher Samhain is seeking submissions about Angels and Demons for a Spring anthology.
Length: 20,000-30,000 words plus synopsis and query letter
Deadline: November 1

According to her blog "Submissions and questions can be directed to Angela James at editor@samhainpublishing.com. Please put Angels and Demons Anthology in the subject line."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Coffee and Critique Schedule for July 2009

Reflections in a Coffee Cup by Gunjan Karun
Coffee and Critique Schedule for July:

July 7 & 21 - 10 a.m. till noon

July 14 & 28 - 6:30 till 8:30 p.m.

Thanks to Donna for sending out the schedule.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Real Simple Life Lessons Contest



Write a 1500 word essay about a moment that made you realize you were a grownup, and submit it by September 7, 2009. The winning entry will be published in the magazine in 2010

The winner also gets round-trip tickets for two to New York City, hotel accommodations for two nights, Broadway play tickets, a lunch with Real Simple editors, and a $3000 prize.
Check out last year's winner, A Witness to Grace, for inspiration.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

NPRs Three Minute Fiction Contest

NPR wants your flash fiction. Submit your 500-600 word story, and it may be read on the air by James Wood, literary critic for The New Yorker and author of the book How Fiction Works. You have until July 18th to submit.

Check the guidelines for more information and to listen to Wood read an example called "For Sixty Cents" by Lydia Davis. And don't forget to read the fine print.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Twitter Book Pitch Contest at BookEnds Literary Agency

Inkygirl reports that agents Jessica Faust and Kim Lionetti at the BookEnds Literary Agency are having a twitter book pitch contest. Just twitter your pitch (140 characters or less) when they say go. Be sure to read the rules because they will be opening and closing submissions during what they call "Twitch Week," as tweeting during a non submission period won't count. So check out twitter if you aren't already a member.

Two winning authors will get a critique of their synopses and first three chapters. Let the tweeting begin.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Down Home" by Tricia Sanders at Sasee

Harvey House, Kansas City Union Station
Woohoo and Congrats to my critique friend Tricia Sanders who has her essay "Down Home" published in print and online for Sasee magazine.

I had the pleasure of reading it in its formative stages, and I love seeing it published. If you're nostalgic for the soft summer days of your childhood, this essay will take you there. Have a Grape Nehi, settle back, and go "Down Home."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Another Freebie From Publishers Lunch T.V.


More free video of BEA 2009 from Publishers Marketplace. For a short time you can watch the ABA Keynote session from BEA with bookseller Roxanne Coady and authors Sherman Alexie, Jon Meacham, James Patterson, and Lisa Scottoline as they discuss the book biz. Scroll down a bit to see the video

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Saturday Writers June Meeting

From the Saturday Writers Website:

June 27 - "Getting Paid to Tell the Truth" - Local newspaper columnist and non-fiction writer Shelly Schneider and husband-and-wife writers Dianna and Don Graveman will participate in a panel discussion and share what they've learned about writing and publishing non-fiction.

Shelly Schneider spent much of her life trying to find a painless method for removing her foot from her mouth. She’s matured, a little, thanks to her husband, Jim, and their three children: Christopher, Michael and Samantha. She is an award-winning columnist for Community News (www.mycnews.com) and alter ego to Sarcastic Woman. Shelly is a lifetime fan of most sports and an 18-year fan of classic and muscle cars. When she’s not doing that other stuff, she tries to keep track of her daily points allowance, because hey, if you bite it, you write it!

Dianna Graveman is an editor for Liguori Publications. She holds an MFA in writing and a bachelor's degree in education and has taught most grades from Kindergarten through college. Her writing has been published in the U.S. and U.K. and has been recognized by the Missouri Writers Guild, Saturday Writers, Whispering Prairie Press, Women on Writing, ByLine Magazine, Erma Bombeck Writing Competition, and Catholic Press Association of the U.S. and Canada. She is a St. Louis Writers Guild "member of distinction," where she served on the organization's board of directors in 2008-2009.

Don Graveman is a historian and freelance photographer, as well as an account manager for Butler Communications in O’Fallon, Missouri . The recipient of a variety of sales awards, Don’s business travels regularly take him across a multi-state territory, mostly in the American West. Don holds a degree in economics from the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Don and Dianna are co-authors of the recently-released pictorial history, St. Charles: Les Petites Cotes, which was published as part of Arcadia Publishing's national "Images of America" series. They are currently under contract with Arcadia to develop three additional books for release in 2010.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Women Baby Boomers Writing Contest


From the Press Release

“Boomer Women Speak – How My Life Changed in One Moment” Writing Contest
Towson, MD
Monday, June 15, 2009

The National Association of Baby Boomer Women, http://www.nabbw.com/ and www.BoomerWomenSpeak.com are excited to sponsor a new writing contest, Boomer Women Speak - How my Life Changed in One Moment. Win $100.00 cash and FREE Membership, or Membership Renewal, with the NABBW!


The National Association of Baby Boomer Women (http://www.nabbw.com/) and http://www.boomerwomenspeak.com/, has opened entries to all baby boomer women for a new writing contest; "Boomer Women Speak – How my Life Changed in One Moment" This contest offers women an opportunity to write their personal stories about entering midlife and beyond.


According to Sue William Silverman, author of "Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir," everyone has a story to tell. The NABBW and Silverman want to hear yours. Dotsie Bregel, founder and CEO of the National Association of Baby Boomer Women, says, "We want to encourage baby boomer women everywhere to enter this contest and share their own life-changing moment. As baby boomers, most of us have reached a cornerstone in our lives where we spend time reflecting on the past. In retrospect, we realize there were moments or events that shaped us, that helped mold our mind, body, and spirit. These life-altering moments made us the women we are today. That's one reason we knew this contest will speak to all baby boomer women.


Bregel continues with, "Everyone's path in life is so different; and by sharing our stories, big or small, we bind ourselves to one another, and continue to empower the women who read them. We want you to give us, in 500 words or less, your moment in time; your turning point, that new beginning, or even an ending. Fill it with all of the emotions at this crucial junction of your life. It's your turn ladies to write a short scene depicting where the event happen; who you were with; and how it impacted the larger story of your life"


"By entering Boomer Women Speak - How my Life Changed in One Moment, we believe our mission of educating, empowering, and enlightening baby boomer women will be echoed and held strong. We've already discovered what an exciting time this is in our lives; now here's the opportunity to write about it; to expand upon the past and how it shaped your future--that one moment--and you were changed forever. That's what we want to read about"


Bregel expects the NABBW contest to stir up a wide range of emotions and anticipates receiving entries from baby boomer women from one end of the globe to the other. All boomer-age (born 1946-1964) women are invited to submit their essay to Dotsie Bregel at contest@nabbw.com, with Fearless Confessions in the subject line. Entries must be 500 words or less, emailed in the body of the email, (no attachments, please) by the August 31st, 2009 deadline. Contestants should include the author's name, email address, and short bio (75 words or less).


There will be three winners chosen for the Boomer Women Speak – How my Life Changed in One Moment contest. The Grand Prize winner will receive $100 and a free membership (or free renewal of their membership) in the National Association of Baby Boomer Women. Second place will receive an autographed copy of "Fearless Confessions," plus a copy of Sue William Silverman's two memoirs. And the third place winner will be awarded an autographed copy of "Fearless Confessions"


Additionally, the winning story will appear in the "Our Voices" section at BoomerWomenSpeak, an affiliate Web site of the NABBW. To learn more about this contest and to read the full guidelines, visit the NABBW contest page. About Dotsie Bregel, founder of the National Association of Baby Boomer Women Since launching NABBW in 2005, and Boomer Women Speak in 2002, Dotsie Bregel has become the expert journalists seek on Boomer women's issues.


Bregel has been mentioned in Time magazine, LA Times, AARP Bulletin and dozens of newspapers, plus radio and television shows including CBS The Early Show with Dave Price.


About the National Association of Baby Boomer Women


The NABBW offers a hearty membership package, an electronic Resource Library devoted to empowering and educating women worldwide, pertinent teleseminars, a warm panel of experts, and many other benefits. Join the NABBW now and be embraced by the only association devoted to addressing topics concerning 38 million of the healthiest, wealthiest and best educated women to ever hit midlife. The NABBW empowers Boomer women to explore their passions and live life to the fullest. Visit their sister site, BoomerWomenSpeak.com where you'll find wise, warm, and witty women engaged in over 60 forums 24/7.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Nathan Bransford's Writing Advice Database

Literary Agent Nathan Bransford has an awesome blog entry complete with links to his past writing advice for every stage in the writing process, from "Before You Start" to "Staying Sane During the Writing/Publishing Process." Check out his Writing Advice Database.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Publishers Lunch TV

Publisher's Lunch is offering a free viewing of the CEO Roundtable at BEA 09 featuring Tina Brown, Brian Murray, Carolyn Reidy, John Sargent, David Steinberger. They discuss the latest in the publishing biz, including ebooks. It's free today only if you want to check it out.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Critique Group Contest

Writer Lynnette Labelle over at Chitterbox Chit Chat is hosting a writing contest for romance authors who are seeking a critique group.

The prize is membership in their online critique group, and three writers will be chosen based on the writing sample and a questionnaire that ensures compatibility with the group members.

You must commit to critique at least one chapter per week if you join. Tomorrow is the last day to submit entries, so check it out.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Quotes: Writers on Writing



Here's a little something to reflect upon on, writer friends.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tennessee Williams Writing Contest

The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Fiction Writing Contest is now open for submissions.

Entry fee: $20
Length: Short fiction up to 7,000 words
Prize: $1,500 and VIP Festival Pass, publication, and airfare/accomodations for the festival
Deadline: November 15, 2009

Check the website for more details.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Romance Novel Sales Continue to Rise

Check out this article on Msn.com about why romance novels are good therapy in today's economy. A bright spot indeed. (The lady they interview is from Festus, MO).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

St. Charles County Book Fair Starts Tomorrow

My writer friend Tricia Sanders reminded me that tomorrow starts the book bonanza known as the St. Charles Friends of the Library Book Fair. It costs $5 for admission on Friday, but Saturday and Sunday are free. Bring a bag to fill on Sunday because books are $5 per bag the last day.

Non-profits and schools can get free books the last day: ***Non Profits and Schools are invited to come in at 2:00pm on Sunday and get as many books that they can handle for FREE!! Contact Lynn Reichmuth at 636-441-2300 ext 1596 for more information

Event Sponsor:
St. Charles County Library District

When:
Fri, May 29, 2009
Sat, May 30, 2009
Sun, May 31, 2009

Mark your calendars for the 2009 Friends Book Fair! It will be held at the St. Charles Convention Center - One Convention Center Plaza in St. Charles. Over 250,000 books, records, sets & magazines are available for purchase. Admission for Friday only - $5 or get in Free with a Friends membership (paid by May 27) - Children under 12 free. For more information, call (636) 441-2300.

(Most items offered at these prices.)
Paperbacks-50 cents -- Oversize paperbacks-$1.00 -- Hardbacks-$2.00 -- Magazines-10 cents
Children's & Teen books -- 25 cents
250,000+ books, records, sets & magazines including sets of National Geographic to sell!
Customers may pay using Mastercard or Visa (minumum charge amount $10.00), checks or cash.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Saturday Writers Meeting May 30

The deadline for submissions has passed, but I learn a tremendous amount by listening to the critques and hearing the work read aloud.

From the Website:

When: May 30, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Saturday Writers presents, "The First 300." Ladies and Gentlemen, start up your writing engines!!!!!

According to most editors and agents, a writer has to capture their attention right away-in the first paragraph or the first page-but for sure by the first 300 words. Members of Saturday Writers submitted their fiction, non-fiction, or essays, up to 300 words (double spaced) which will be read during the May meeting and critiqued by a panel of editors. And, you don't have to submit anything to attend the meeting. Everyone is welcome to attend!!!

Where: St. Peters Community and Arts Center
1035 St. Peters Howell Road (just off of Mid Rivers Mall Drive), St. Peters, MO. Phone 636-397-6903 for directions.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Coffee and Critique June Schedule 2009

From Donna: Here's the schedule for this month for Coffee and Critique:

Jun 2 and 16 - 10:00 a.m. till noon
June 9 and 23 - 6:30 p.m. till 8:30 p.m.

June 30 - Fifth Tuesday--we will talk about if we will meet

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ebook Readers and The Evolution of Ebooks

Check out the great video over at AbsoluteWrite that's a panel discussion on ebooks from O'Reilly 2009 Tools of Change for Publishing featuring Harlequin ebook rep Malle Vallik, Samhain editor Angela James, Booksquare's Kassia Krozser and Smart Bitch Sarah Wendell.

It discusses ebook devices, ebook consumers (ladies, that's us), and what they want from an ebook in the future. They whip out more ebook electronics than a 21st century O.K. Corral, so if you've kicked around buying an ebook reader, this is a nice way to get opinions from some avid readers on which ones work best.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Industry Trends Blog from Writer's Digest Editor Jane Friedman

There Are No Rules, Jane Friedman's blog, has a nice wrap up of the Penwriters Conference that includes a section on industry trends in fiction (scroll down to see it). Agents are saying "Yes" to romance, dark stories, and the inspirational. "Noish" to mysteries and young adult.

She also has an insightful article on "Writers and Recession" that discusses not only how the economic downturn is affecting writers, but how the publishing industry itself is changing - and there's no going back to the days of print only, newspapers and hard copies. Good scouts should get prepared, boys and girls.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Is Your Blog Kindle-Worthy? Amazon Thinks So.

Publisher's Weekly is reporting that now anyone can sell their blog through Amazon's Kindle just by signing up. Amazon will keep 70% of any revenue from subscribers, and the rest goes to you. It says most blog subscriptions run about $.99 to $1.99 per month, with the price determined by Amazon. So your blog is sent wirelessly to the Kindle of anyone who subscribes.

Read the Washington Post article for more details.

The article also mentions a Instapaper, which let's you save web pages for later reading. It looks kinda cool, so you may want to check it out if you're like me and always forget where you left that great article you were meaning to read, or the piece of research you want to examine in-depth later.

Sorry about the no pictures. My computer doesn't seem to be recognizing jpeg files at the moment. Sigh. *Shakes clueless nontechy head*

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Upcoming Contest Deadlines From Poets and Writers

Check out some of the upcoming writing contest deadlines at Poets and Writers website, including Boulevard and River Styx's poetry contests.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Fun: Editing Letter

Found this link on Editorial Ass's blog. Thanks, moonrat. It's a nice flashback to the 80s along with writer humor.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Workshop: Ozark Writers and Illustrators for Children

Ozark Writers and Illustrators for Children is hosting a one day workshop on July 11, 2009. You can print the brochure and send it in to register. It's only $40 if you sign up early, and it includes lunch.

The workshop will be held at the Lebanon-Laclede County library in Lebanon, MO. Speakers include J.B. Cheaney, Vicki Grove, and Louise Jackson.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Samhain Publishing Seeks Space Opera Romance Novellas

The Fifth Element
The Galaxy Express reports that Samhain Publishing is calling for Space Opera Romance stories to be published in 2010.

The novellas should be 25,000 - 30,000 words and submissions are due by August 10, 2009.

I say its time to pop in The Fifth Element, Serenity, and Star Wars and then let them stew for 24 hours until a story develops. Yeah. It could be one messed up Space Opera by then. Fun!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Literary Journals at Poets and Writers Magazine

Poets and Writers has added 16 new literary magazines to their listings.

You can check out their literary magazine database to find the right publication for your poem, essay, or short story.

The database lists the journals genres, submission periods, and how they accept submissions, so go find your baby a home today.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Two Writing Contests: Flash Fiction and Mark Twain

Donna over at Donnas Book Pub (forgive my apostrophe drought, my son hooked a gaming keyboard into my computer and it wont. type. apostrophes. Arrrrg) has two great contest announcements, one for WOWs Flash Fiction and another for a Mark Twain homage.

They both have May 31st deadlines.

Query On.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Summer Non-Fiction Class at UMSL

From Catherine Rankovic:

Dear Writers:
I will be teaching the graduate Creative Nonfiction Workshop at UMSL this summer. For Metro-area residents the cost is just under $900. You do not have to be in their MFA program to enroll, simply write well enough to take a graduate course (3 credits) and be a good critic. Provide me with a writing sample first; then you receive a consent number to register online at http://www.umsl.edu/.

 Mary Troy, UMSL's Creative Writing Program director, wrote me:

"In fact, if you know of people who may want to work with you but who are not students here, please encourage them to sign up this way, to get a consent number from me. I have some to give out still, though it is way too early to tell if the class will fill or not. It seems to be moving fine, with already 7 in it."

The course number is English 5140. It meets Tuesday and Thursday evenings, June 15-August 8, 6:00-8:30 p.m. It will have 2 textbooks. Thank you very much. Please pass the word and my email address, clrankov@juno.com, to anyone you think may be interested.

Catherine Rankovic

Friday, April 17, 2009

Redbook Silver Lining Writing Contest

Heard about this from Patsy Bell. Thanks for the heads up, Patsy.

Redbook is sponsoring a Silver Lining Writing Contest in conjunction with the Cup of Comfort Series. You could win $1000 and publication in Redbook for your best story about overcoming an obstacle or hardship. Essays should be between 1000-2000 words. Submit them to the Cup of Comfort website by May 15, 2009 for your chance to win. And, as always, be sure to read the fine print.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I Am Dead Yet

This blog has nothing on it today because I'm crabby and sick until further notice. And stop reading so loud. And no, there is no picture.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Health Insurance for Freelancers

If you're a freelancer looking for health insurance, check out "Health Insurance for Freelance Writers" by Rachel V. Olivier in the latest issue of WOW.

As the article mentions, Mediabistro (costs to join) and the Freelancers Union (free to join) have great links to health insurance for their members.

But be sure to check out Consumer Reports "7 Signs that a Health Plan Might Be Junk" before you buy. The May 2009 issue has lots of ratings and info for people who are looking for health insurance after being laid off. So get thee to the library to check it out if you can't afford to buy a copy.

And remember, if it's too cheap to be true, it's probably too cheap to pay when you need it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Summer Writers Institute and Young Writers Workshop

The fourteenth annual Washington University Summer Writers Institute will be held June 15-26, 2009 in St. Louis.

The application guidelines and FAQ about the workshop are on their website. You can also check out their faculty there.

The workshops cover the following areas:
Poetry
Literary Fiction
Popular Fiction
Creative Nonfiction

Young Writers Institute will also be conducted for high school students who are juniors and seniors in the following school year. You can attend for three hours of college credit or at a lower price for the noncredit option.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Free (Mostly) Writing Residency for Midwestern Writers

Sunrise by Tricia Grissom
I lust after this - going somewhere peaceful and bucolic to write essays. Does this work? Or would I start to feel the stress of making that week count. Then break out in hives. Then come home and recover from the writing vacation. I'm waaaay to neurotic for this.

But if you're not, WP Wordpress says this week-long writing residency could be yours for the low, low price of a $15 application fee if you're a writer from the midwest. Check out Writers in the Heartland to apply.

It's located in Gilman, Illinois and the deadline for applications is tax man day, April 15, 2009.

Monday, March 30, 2009

St. Charles Community College Coffeehouse Open Mic

I'd so be there if I wasn't leaving town for the MWG Conference. If you have to miss the conference, this a great way to get a shot of writerly creativity for free - plus cookies!



WHAT: The Coffeehouse open-mic night
WHEN: 7-9 p.m. Friday, April 3
WHERE: Daniel J. Conoyer Social Sciences Building auditorium; St. Charles Community College campus, 4601 Mid Rivers Mall Dr. in Cottleville
COST: No cost
CONTACT INFO: Teddy Norris, 636-922-8407

CREATIVITY ENCOURAGED THROUGH READING, SONG AT SCC OPEN-MIC NIGHT
The SCC Coffeehouse, an Open-Mic night for poets, prose writers, song writers, and creative non-fiction writers to share their creativity, will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, April 3, in the auditorium of the Daniel J. Conoyer Social Sciences Building at St. Charles Community College.

Organizers of The Coffeehouse open-mic night invite SCC students, faculty, staff, and the public to share their original selections, or to come to listen and enjoy the entertainment. Creative selections should be 5-7 minutes long. Complimentary coffee and cookies will be served.
"The Coffeehouse is an open-mic opportunity for creative people to share what they’ve written – poetry, short fiction, essays, skits, song, and more," said Teddy Norris, event organizer and professor of English. "The Coffeehouse brings them all under one roof and into the perfect setting to share their best work with others."

The SCC campus is located at 4601 Mid Rivers Mall Drive in Cottleville. The open-mic night is free and open to the public.

For more information about The SCC Coffeehouse, call Norris at 636-922-8407 or visit www.stchas.edu/calendars and click on “Coffeehouse.”

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thin Threads Anthologies Seeking Submissions

I found this courtesy of writer Becky Povich's blog. She has a link to a trailer about the series on her blog, so be sure to check it out. I'm loving your blog soundtrack, Becky. The Thin Threads anthologies are seeking inspirational submissions for the following books:

Thin Threads of Business & Career
Thin Threads of Compassion & Giving
Thin Threads of Recovery & Survival
Thin Threads of Holidays & Celebrations (including Romance/Valentines Day)
Thin Threads of Teachers & Mentors
Thin Threads of Teens & Young Adults
Thin Threads® the Legacy Project – featuring fathers, mothers, grandparents
Thin Threads of Patriotism & Courage
Thin Threads of Achievement in Sports & Fitness

They pay $100 for submissions, and right now they're running a contest. The winner of best story will get two tickets to Europe on AirFrance in addition to payment. See their submission guidelines for details on what they're looking for and be sure to read the fine print in their publication agreement.