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Friday, November 5, 2010

Nano Continues

Nano Word Count for today: 1721
Total Word Count: around 5300 (I'm actually cheating and adding to a novel I already started at about 6700 words.

I remember this being easier last time. Course my brain was younger and time dulls the memory of profound pain. That's it. I'm out of words for today.

Sleep well Nanoers. We'll do it all again tomorrow.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NanoWriMo Continues and Harlequin Looks for New Writers

Word Count today: 1409. I'm working my way up. Let's hope I can catch up some this weekend.

Sioux? Sanders? Mary? How's it going?

Has anyone managed to check out Harlequins "So You Think You Can Write?" They are looking for new voices and this week-long workshop is free to anyone who wants to learn about the genre. It ends tomorrow, but it's still an awsome opportunity for aspiring romance novelists. Many of this week's discussions are archived if you're interested.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NanoWriMo Oh No!

This has been the worst week ever to start NanoWrimo. But I'm doing it. Alas, tonight I will only have 200 words done for today, but it is more than I had yesterday. I did plan out some future scenes while my students were doing research in the library.

Fie and a curse upon two classes in one week, a car with a naughty check engine light, a backed up bathroom floor drain and sundry madness.

Nano Total so Far: 3300

Send some good vibrations my way people; I'm going to need it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Writing Real Characters: Pretend Your Character Has Been Taken Hostage

Some of the stories I like best have vivid, memorable characters:

Sookie Stackhouse - a small town southern barmaid who happens to read people's minds and date vampires

Elizabeth Bennet - a woman in a man's world who refuses to marry for money, likes long rambles in the woods and sarcastic skewering of self-important people, and has embarrassing parents and immature siblings

Harry Potter - an orphaned wizard boy who defeated The Dark Lord Voldemort before he could even walk

Mary Shannon - a federal marshal who's gambling-addicted father abandoned the family when she was a child

Sheldon Cooper - a theoretical physicist with OCD tendencies that border on the psychotic, a rabid love of comic books and a mother who believes Jesus saves

And I want to write characters people will care about. So I'm going to pretend they've been taken hostage. They have two minutes to make themselves human to the kidnapper so he won't blow their brains out.

So what would you tell someone to save your life, to make you a person to him or her? Not your job or level of education.

Maybe that you grew up in a small town and every summer went to the Tasty Freeze for frozen chocolate-covered bananas. You bite your nails when you're nervous. You have divorced parents who scarred you for life and you weigh 30 pounds too much. You are addicted to roller derby or European rugby. You are still afraid of the monsters in your closet and mainline sweet tea for breakfast.

Your dreams, hopes, fears and quirks are what make you an individual - a character. So once I figure those out, I might have a shot at writing a character worth reading about.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Missouri Writers' Guild Flash Fiction Contest


  1. Flash Fiction – Get to the point in 500 words or less. Subject is open, but no gore or pornography.
  2. Deadline for entry—submissions must be postmarked no later than September 30, 2010.

3. Entry fee: $10 for non-members, $8 for members (make sure your dues are current.) Maximum of three entries per person.

4. Checks payable to: Missouri Writers’ Guild.

5. Prizes: 1st place - $100, 2nd place - $50, 3rd place - $25. Three honorable mentions will receive certificates.

6. Short stories must be in English, unpublished at the time of submission, and original work of the contestant.

7. Contestants retain all rights to their stories. Standard manuscript format: 8 1/2 x 11 paper, typed and double-spaced on one side of the paper, pages numbered, title of entry on every page, 12 point Times New Roman. Paper clip pages together. Contestants name or other identifying information should not appear anywhere on manuscript.

8. Attach a separate cover sheet and include: story title, contestant’s name, address, e-mail, phone number, and MWG chapter name (if applicable). Do NOT send by certified mail!

9. Mail entry fee and two copies of each entry, flat, not folded, by September 30 (postmark) to:

Tricia L. Sanders
Missouri Writers’ Guild – Flash Fiction Contest
90 Westwood Trails
Foristell, MO 63348

10. Stories exceeding word limit, not having adequate postage, or not adhering to contest guidelines will be disqualified and entry fee will not be returned. Decision of judge is final. Not responsible for lost or misdirected entries. Stories will not be returned. For a list of winners, visit our website in late October 2010: Certificates and prizes will be mailed by the end of October.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You Can't Make These People Up

So. My car grunted and expired battery-wise on Sunday. Which was really nice of it cause it wasn't after work some dark scary night. I thought I lucked out as far as you can when you're car won't go.

Until I met tow truck man. Kudos to me for having AAA. No cookie for them because they let this guy out to associate with people.

He arrives right before the tornado from OZ is about to strike a glancing blow on my hometown. The whole day has been a moisty hot mess, and it decides to storm in the 10 minutes I'm having my car towed.

Tow truck man is not happy. He has apparently been rained on several times in other municipalities and is not chipper to participate once again in said drenching. He tells me so.

Did I mention Wal Mart's Auto Shop closes in a mere 45 minutes? We are only 5 minutes away, so this does not seem insurmountable. I hope. Tow truck man tells me to get in the truck and loads my car up. He is able to run to the vehicle just as the heavens open, avoiding the rain. I, on the other hand, would not have minded being rained on because I'd been trying to jump my car in 90 degree Missouri humidity. Little Orphan Annie has nothing on the frizz developing in my hair.

It is 1.3 miles to Wal Mart. I know because the internet told me when I searched for the auto body hours. It is a long 1.3 miles. Tow truck man is complaining about everything from his boss to the stupid people on the road who don't turn their lights on when it's raining. In fact, he is so incensed by the latter that he rolls down his window to yell at the people who are lightless. Several times. It seems they can't hear him through the window that is up to block out the rain storm. Finally he gets their attention. "Turn on your lights! It's the law!"

"Morons," he says in a companionable aside to me. I make no sudden movements and make sure my seatbelt is fastened. It's the law.

We arrive at Wal Mart scant minutes later where tow truck man insists he will not be unhooking my car until the deluge has stopped. Since I was not jumping up and down and insisting he suffer the hurricane, I am puzzled by his firmness on the matter. He continues to discuss with himself how abused he's been.

Now we are sitting just feet from the bay doors of salvation inside the auto shop as I cower against the truck door. Tow truck man calls in to report on this little debacle. A lengthy description of how hard it's storming is relayed to his unlucky dispatcher. I do a reverse rain chant mentally and 5 minutes later the rain stops and the sun comes out. I'm free!

I make a break for the auto shop office, tow truck man off-loads my car and drives away without looking back. I am unsurprised and grateful at this turn of events. That. Was awesome.

Tow truck man is so in my next book.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I'll Be Bok

Sorry I haven't been posting. The good news is it's because I just got a new full-time job (Yeah, financial solvency!)  as a technical writer. Ask me about springs for your truck suspension. I dare you.

(We now pause for a moment as the author does something she likes to call "the benefits dance" as she rejoices in her healthcare and 401K opportunities. (It's two steps to the right, two steps to the left and a fist pump if you're interested).

The not-exactly-bad news is I still have the two part-time teaching jobs I was surviving on. So. I'm working to finish up classes by next week, and then I'll be down to two jobs and back to posting. Thanks to all the new followers who've joined in the last several weeks in spite of my abandonment.

As the Arnold would say, "I'll be bok."

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Missouri Writers Guild Conference 2010

The Missouri Writers Guild Conference will be in Chesterfield, Mo this year on April 16-18, 2010. I'm hoping to attend if I can get the funds together this year. You can download the registration form and even pay by paypal.

Lots of interesting speakers, agents, and editors to check out, including Wash U creative writing teacher, Catherine Rankovic, who writes Mental Health for Writers. I could use some of that, God knows.

The following literary agents will also be at the conference:

Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary Agency, Denver, Colorado (I love her blog, Pubrants)
Nelson Literary Agency represents fiction for adult, young adult and middle grade books. We work with literary and commercial fiction. For nonfiction, we are only interested in memoir.

We are currently seeking:

Literary (with a commercial bent)

Commercial mainstream

Women's fiction

Chick lit (all types including paranormal, mystery, young adult etc.)

Romance (all types for single title except inspirational)

Science Fiction


Young Adult

Middle Grade


Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, Agent. Nancy Coffey Literary and Media Representation.

Joanna is looking for children's chapter books to upper YA (non-fiction, contemporary, humor, historical and fantasy *fantasy/sci-fi needs to really stand out, unique), adult romance (historical, paranormal, contemporary), fantasy (urban fantasy, steampunk, unique), up-market fiction (women's, commercial, dark, literary, horror, speculative fic), narrative non-fiction (pop culture, environmental, foodie).

She is NOT interested in mysteries, legal thrillers, corporate thrillers, cookbooks, academic nonfiction, epic fantasy for adults, hi-science fiction, poetry, collections/short stories, screenplays

Suzie Townsend, Junior Agent; Peter Rubie Agency

Suzie Townsend is a Junior Agent and Peter Rubie's assistant and is just starting to take on clients. She will be actively building her list in April 2010 during the conference. She's a former high school English teacher who likes character-driven YA and adult fantasy, science fiction, paranormal and romance. She gravitates toward strong female protagonists, complex plot lines with underlying political, moral, or philosophical issues, and stories which break out of the typical tropes of their genre, like Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series. For non-fiction, she is primarily interested in narrative non-fiction and true crime.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Family Circle Fiction Writing Contest 2010

It's time, once again, for the Family Circle Fiction Writing Contest.

Entries are being accepted now through September 8, 2010. Submit a fiction story, 2500 word maximum.
It must be unpublished, and you cannot have received a prize or award for it. No foul language, porn, or ritual animal sacrifice. (Go figure, it's Family Circle, people).

Check out the previous year's winners for more info on what they are looking for.

I think they own the story if it wins, so be aware.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

St. Louis Writers Guild March 2010 Events

Check out this great schedule of March meetings and workshops from the St. Louis Writers Guild.

Saturday, March 6, 10 a.m. - Noon
"See my Byline: Writing for Newspapers and Magazines"  Workshop by Margo Dill

Tuesday, March 9, 7-9 p.m.

Open-Mic Night

Thursday, March 18, 7-8 p.m.
"I'm Pretty Good, So Why Haven't I Been Published," Lecture by Claire Applewhite

Tuesday, March 16, 8-10 p.m.
Loud Mouth Open Mic Night (This one is rated R, folks)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

For the Guys Who Write YA

A heads up from young adult agent Kristin Nelson. Her agency's list is short on male clients who write for young adults, and they're looking for more guys to rep. So run your stuff through your critique group and shine it until it squeaks; then submit for your chance. Don't waste an engraved invitation, people.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Open-Mic Coffeehouse Next Week at St. Charles Community College

The next open-mic coffee house for St. Charles Community College will be Thursday, February 18, 2010.

One of these days I'm actually going to make it to one of these. And read something. Out loud.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

LaChance Publishing Seeking Stories

LaChance publishing is a non-fiction publisher that publishes books about health topics and fitness. Their "Voices Of" series of anthologies is seeking 500-3,000 word personal essays on the following topics:

Alzheimer’s Disease
Breast Cancer

They are also seeking stories about dogs who've made a difference in people's lives. From the website:

MORE Good Dogs Doing Good

"Following on the success of Good Dogs Doing Good, we’re planning a second volume of uplifting, true stories of dogs that have transformed people’s lives.

What we need: True stories of literary merit that show the real, positive and transformative impact a dog has had in your life or the lives of your family or loved ones. For example, has a dog aided you through an illness or given you new insights on yourself or your life? Good Dogs Doing Good itself is the best reference. Your story should be 500-3,000 words.

What we do NOT need: Stories that focus primarily on a dog’s adorable characteristics."

There is no information listed on payment.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mid Rivers Review Seeking Submissions

The Mid Rivers Review, the literary magazine of St. Charles Community College, is open for submissions through January 31, 2010. So if you have something you've been meaning to send out, here is a place for it.

Check out their submissions guidelines and excerpts from past journals. The poetry is quiet good. I especially like Heather Treseler's Atomic Chicken Dance. Besides poetry, they also accept short fiction, non-fiction essays, photographs, and art work.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Fun: Bo's Cafe Life

Check out Bo's Cafe Life by Wayne E. Pollard, a comic strip about aspiring writer and cafe addict, Bo. Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird is one of my favorite writing books, and he's doing a series of strips about it this week. So if you're a fan like I am, check them out.

This one about query letters made me grin.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Middle Grade Books Giveaway

Margo Dill's blog, Read These Books and Use Them, is giving away three middle grade books by Clara Gillow Clark. Just stop by and leave on comment on her contest blog post by 8 p.m. CST on January 21 for your chance to win.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Book Giveaway at Becky Povich's Blog

Writer Becky Povich is giving away a book this week on her blog. Just leave a comment about a book you discovered by accident that turned out to be a hidden gem. The contest deadline is Saturday, January 23 at midnight CST.

I'll be trolling it for books to read, especially series. Don't you adore it when you love the first book in a series and then find out it already has about 5 or 6 currently published. A delicious banquet then lies ahead. Ummmm.

Friday, January 15, 2010

New Market - Mom Magazine

From the editor's of Pregnancy and Hot Mom's Club comes Mom magazine.

Here's some info on the launch of this new magazine that's focused on mothers rather than just on their progeny problems. Mom magazine is here.

Round Up of Cool Blog Posts This Week

Here are some of this week's neat blog posts from the universe in which I read blogs.

Kristin Nelson's Example Novel Query Letters:
Megan Crewe's Query Letter
Gail Carrigar's Query Letter Part I
Gail Carrigar's Query Letter Part II

Donna's Book Pub - Flash Fiction Contest Info

A Peaceful Sunday Afternoon at a Teaching Life - Put one of those in my virtual shopping bag, please.

Here's hoping we all have a great weekend.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Agent Nathan Bransford's Blog Contest

Here is great brain exercise for the new year. Enter literary agent Nathan Bransford's The Secret Year Teen Diary Extravaganza. Write a diary entry a la teenage angst (not to exceed 500 words), and you may be a winner. You have until 4:00 PM Pacific Time on Wednesday January 6th.

From the website: The GRAND PRIZE ULTIMATE WINNER of the THE SECRET YEAR Teen Diary Writing Contest Extravaganza will win:

- A signed copy of THE SECRET YEAR (pending winner's proximity to the US of A)
- Their choice of a query critique, partial critique, or 10 minute phone conversation/consultation/dish session
- The pride of knowing OMG you are like the greatest writer for teens ever.

Runners up may get a critique as well.

Chase The Dream Romance Novel/Novella Contest

The annual Chase The Dream Romance Novella Contest is up and running for the new year. Romance authors Rachelle Chase and Leigh Michaels sponsor the contest and ask for the first 1000 words of your romance novel/novella.

Entries are judged weekly, some receive mini critiques, and many are reviewed by agents. You can see a complete list of rules and the Q&A on their website for more information.

It has lots of great feedback about romance writing, regardless of whether you win or not.

Good luck to everyone.