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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