"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Monday, January 31, 2011

Trouble Sitting Still

I’m having trouble sitting still. I’m too excited by a recent contract offer for a nonfiction piece.
I know it's possible things may not work out. I hear horror stories of people offered a contract then still wait months if not years for the publication. Contracts get renegotiated, lost, misunderstood etc. For more information on signing away rights - http://writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/2010/12/what-rights-should-you-offer.html
I know publishing is subjective and usually no reflection of actual talent, but of the publisher finding the right piece at the right time. However, I can’t help being happy. I’m coasting high and hoping we can reach an agreement soon.
My current submission tally for 2011:
Short Story Submissions: 1
Poetry Submissions: 4
Nonfiction Submissions: 2
Rejections: 0
Publications: 0
Contract offers: 1

Note: Only 25 days left in the “Space Tales” contest. See my previous post for more information. Happy writing!

Friday, January 28, 2011

"Space Tales" Writing Contest

Today is the 25th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger explosion. Six astronauts and one teacher died following their dreams in pursuit of knowledge.
The space program has had a long and illustrious tradition of exploration and achievement which came from the hard work of thousands. This year marks the last three space shuttle missions.  
In memory of the sacrifice of so many, I am hosting a “Space Tales” contest. You may submit fiction, memoirs, interviews etc. I cannot offer payment at this time. The winner will receive publication of their story on this blog. Depending on the amount of entries, more than one winner may be chosen.

Submission Guidelines:
1.)    I am open to most genres as long as the main focus of the story in space related. Please, NO erotica. Graphic language/scenes are okay as long as integral to the story; No gratuitous sex scenes or shock-effect vulgarity. Nothing "X" rated.
2.)    Send as a Word Document or RTF attachment – if neither of these is possible, you may submit in the body of the email.
3.)    This must be an original story and previously unpublished.
4.)    Must be 3,500 words or less.
5.)    Send submission to writinginwonderland@gmail.com with the subject line “Space Tale Submission”.
6.)    Include your title and byline/writing as name below title.
7.)    Include a short (2-4 sentences) biography, written in the third person, following your story. This will run after your story (if selected for publication). You may include your personal web or blog address if you wish.
8.)    Please send only ONE submission. Subsequent submissions will be discarded. Be sure you are finished with your story before you submit it. I will not take the time for alterations and rewrites.
9.)    I will send a short reply to let you know I have successfully received your story. If you don't receive a reply within 24 hours of submitting, please try again.
10.)             I will NOT offer individual feedback or critiques on your submissions at this time.

The contest runs from today until February 24 (the currently scheduled launch date for STS 133 Discovery). I will publish the winner(s) piece by April 19 (the currently scheduled launch date for STS 134 Endeavour). Good luck and Happy Writing!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Becoming A Master

Ever consider going for your MFA in Creative Writing? I have often thought about it. A friend completed hers about three years ago and swears you must have one to survive today. I have another friends who does not have an MFA and will proclaim just as loudly they are a waste of time and money. Neither are published as of yet.
If you are considering one, here are five things to keep in mind:  
1. Education – Furthering your education is always a good idea. You’ll be around other writers who can inspire, motivate and teach you. The more people you can get to read and critique your work, the better you write. You will have a built-in support team. However, if you are more concerned with story-telling and not so much about details on how the story is told, you probably will not like literary writing courses. They tend to focus on how the story is told, its language, and not always the story itself. This is not always true. Some MFA programs do offer paths in genre fiction. So take a look at the classes required and offered as well as who is teaching them before you decide.
2. Time - Most MFA programs (specifically for creative writing) are studio programs that focus on writing. This means you spend a lot of time meeting deadlines for writing, and then work-shopping what you’ve written. This provides blocked times when you are away from your job, family and friends. If you are looking for a specified refuge to work on your writing, a writing program might work.
 3. Agents - Some MFA programs are watched by literary agents. Some universities are renowned for producing great writers. Agents are looking for writers they know can produce. Iowa and Arizona are supposedly at the top of this list. 
4. Cost – You are buying experience, credit and prestige when you obtain a Master’s in a university. Your degree can cost between $10,000 - $100,000 depending on the school. Each degree and university is different, so make sure to look at the cost before you enroll. Some MFA programs do have stipends and assistantships where you can teach to get your tuition paid. You can also apply for loans just as you did for a Bachelor’s.
5. Career Goal -  An MFA will aid you in teaching at a university or in a writing program. It’s also the next step to getting your Ph.D. If you are interested in teaching at a university, an MFA is ideal. This especially applies to poets. Poets generally find it pretty hard to make a living writing poetry, so teaching is one of the best options. Also, ask yourself if you could improve without the program. If your ultimate goal is to become published, many do so without the aid of a university. You can get a lot out of online courses, workshops and conferences, including meeting writers, agents and getting critiques of your work. MFAs are like any degree you get in the humanities, there is no guarantee. It might not get you a book deal. It might not get you published. It might not even get you a teaching job. See: http://www.webster.edu/~schustjm/creative.htm and http://www.awpwriter.org/careers/khilgeford01.htm

Being in an MFA program will not “hurt” your writing. It will change your writing, and it may not tailor changes to the genre you love. Ask yourself the right questions. Don’t let others discourage you. Don’t let anything stand in your way. If you feel you want an MFA degree you shouldn’t let anything stop you. For every author out there who could not find a job or hasn’t written a best-seller, there are just as many who have achieved their goals. Many writers do very well with a creative writing degree, just as many do so without one. Make the choice that is right for you.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Inspired by Brinkley

This is Brinkley: he lurks around our family’s lake house. My sister-in-law named him after watching You’ve Got Mail. If you haven’t seen it, the last name of Tom Hanks’ character is FOX and he has a pet named Brinkley.
Our Brinkley has been showing up for several months now. He
comes up every evening about twilight and will take food right out of your hand. Obviously, he has trained humans before.  
So, why am I sharing this story with you? I took a few days off from writing (except to answer emails and complete a few critiques for others.) I spent a very enjoyable day up at the lake with family and Brinkley returned again.  He has given me an idea for a children’s book. It has been a long time since I attempted a children’s book, but Brinkley has been great inspiration.
I’ve got a few notes and ideas for my Brinkley book, but I’m setting it aside for a while until I can finish a few other projects. I have more ideas for books, poems and articles than I have time to complete. Does this ever happen to you?

Friday, January 21, 2011

100 Stories for Queensland

This has been a week for writing contests and opportunities. In the same spirit of offering aid, here is a worthy cause with which to share your passion and skill.

"100 Stories for Queensland" is a charity anthology to assist the survivors of the Queensland floods in Australia. Stories are being donated by writers from across the globe and 100% of the sales profit will be donated to the Queensland Premier's Flood Relief appeal. http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/

Theye are accepting previously unpublished short fiction between 500 – 1000 words. No multiple submissions allowed. The deadline is Friday, 28th January 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

The anthology will be available in digital and print form, and is expected to be ready for release late February/early March. Copyright of all work will remain with the author. For a complete list of guidelines, please visit: http://100storiesforqueensland.submishmash.com/Submit

Thursday, January 20, 2011


How To Books is giving you the opportunity to win £100 for you best "How To" article.  There is no entry fee, but membership is required. However, membership is free. The article can be on any topic that meets their guidelines, 300 - 500 words. Submission deadline is midnight UK time, January 31, 2011. The winner will be chosen by the editors.

We all have experience we can share in a "How To" article and people love lists so don't be afraid to share your "Five steps to Prepaing for College", "How to Remodel Your Kitchen" or "Seven Things You Need to Get That Loan". Good luck and Happy Writing!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chance to Win Free Books

We all love free stuff and if you're like me, you can never have enough books. Here are two opportunities to win a free book. You must be a follower on their site and leave a comment about the book of your choice to be entered to win. If you share this information on your own blog, facebook or twitter page, you can be entered again for a chance to win. Good luck and Happy Reading!

Angela Felsted is having a contest on her blog where you can win one of THREE books!

Larissa from Larissa's world is giving away FOUR books. Yes, four! Two of them are signed by the author. And two of them are Advanced Reader Copies - not sold to the general public yet!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Finding the Right Conference

I believe it’s important to attend writing conferences. They offer you a chance to grow and expand your horizons. However, writer’s often pass on their local conferences due to a lack of time, money or interest in the speakers.
So how do you know if a conference is right for you? Here are a few conference lists to get you started. Happy conferencing in 2011!

The American Society of Journalists and Authors Conference
Christian Writers Conferences
Mt. Herman Christian Writers Conference
Mystery Conferences
Poets and Writers Conferences
Romance Writers Conference
Writers Conferences - Newpages
Writers Conferences - Shawguides

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011 Spirit First Meditation Poetry Contest

I've been writing poetry the last few weeks and I came across a contest I wanted to share with you.


2011 Spirit First Meditation Poetry Contest 

No Entry Fee - Deadline to Enter: January 31, 2011
First Prize: $175
Second Prize: $125
Third Prize: $75
Special Category - Spoken Poem Prize: $75

Poetry submissions may be of any length and any style but must have a theme of meditation, mindfulness, stillness, or silence. Poems may reflect any discipline, any faith, or none. Poems must be previously unpublished. You may submit up to three poems. Winners will be announced no later than March 31, 2011, on the Spirit First website: http://www.spiritfirst.org/. Winning poems will be published on the Spirit First website and the Spirit First blog, and in the Spirit First newsletter. Selected poems may be invited to participate in an upcoming book publication.

Personal Reading List: I just finished the first three books of the Nora Roberts bride quartet. I'm waiting to pry the fourth out of my mothers fingers. I'm also reading Marshal Ney: Bravest of the Brave - a biography about Michel Ney, Napolean's most famous Marshal and a possible ancestor to my husband.

As always, please feel free to ask questions and suggest books. Happy Writing!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

And The Winners Are...

First, let me thank you all for your interest and support. I enjoyed hearing from you and I think I will offer a similar contest again in the future – so keep checking back. The five names drawn are:

1.)    Melody Jackson
2.)    Aimee Bea 
3.)    Sherry Cahill 
4.)    Georgia Downer
5.)    Kelliejwin
Congratulations to these writers. If the five of you will sign in to this blog (under the pictures of followers is the sign in button) there is a private message for you.
If you are disappointed your name was not drawn, remember to check back for future contest opportunities. I look forward to reading more from all of you. Thank you again for your support. Happy Writing!

Monday, January 10, 2011

What Happens in Critique Group, Stays in Critique Group

In honor of the contest I’m offering (see previous post) I felt like writing about critique groups.
Critiques are interesting things. Especially when performed by friends and family. Your critique partners are suddenly incapable of being completely honest. “That’s wonderful, I wouldn’t change a thing!” or “That’s good. You’re a fabulous writer.” And my personal favorite “That’s the best thing you’ve written so far!” Usually all lies. At what point did people become afraid to tell the truth? Are they just afraid to hurt our feelings?
We can’t learn and improve that way. If you’re a writer, you must have thick skin. The industry is brutal. We all know this, so why is it so difficult for so many to be honest? Use the red pen liberally. (Let’s face it, a first draft especially warrants a lot of red dressing.)
Perhaps, you have not gathered a group capable of taking the “What happens in critique group stays in critique group” pledge. Good critique partners are essential to help you grow as a writer. You should be able to share your fears and bare your soul to these fellow muses. Hopefully, you will also share contest and author news, information about being involved in writer’s guilds, associations, and competitions as well as how to find the right agent and publisher for your work. You may even become inspired to try new things.
So, how do you find this dream group?
1.)    Take advantage of writers groups and conferences. If you arrive early to the meeting or hang out to talk at the end of them, you can usually find someone willing and interested in taking a look at your work. You can also find out who else might be open to forming a critique group.
2.)    Be open to critiquing for others, even when you have nothing of your own to share. One day you will want the favor returned. You will learn as much from what other writers do right and what they do wrong as you will from your own critiqued pieces.
3.)               Be willing to try multiple critique groups. It’s not a competition; you’re not cheating on anyone. Try both face-to-face group and online critique groups (become comfortable with the technology if you are not already – more publishers are taking electronic submissions only). This is also the best chance you have of finding the “perfect” critique partners for you.
4.)               Be willing to edit for mixed genres. Remember, the more eyes and views you can get, the better chance you have of completing a best seller. Besides, in the future you/other group members will inevitably switch goals or change schedules. The more critique partner options you have, the less time you will spend looking for help under a deadline.
5.)     Share what you learn and provide tips and encouragement when you critique for someone else. Writer’s value honesty and information.
Remember it’s important to find others to review your work. Family and friends, while more readily available, are not necessarily the best help. While it’s most definitely a good idea to get their opinions (assuming you have not already driven them crazy with your continuous “read this” plea) it’s best to get unbiased critiques from other writers who understand your craft.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year, New Contest

Most writers will tell you a critique group is a valuable asset. However, if you are like myself it's difficult to find time to form a regularly meeting group. Jobs, school, family and many other responsibilities intrude on our individual time. Any down time we achieve, we usually fill with much needed sleep or writing out the next idea we've had before we lose it. The critiques we are able to get on our work are usually performed by family and friends. We are left wishing we had at least one  unbiased edit of our work. Hence, the contest I am offering you.

I will critique (free of charge) the first 1000 words of a story for five lucky winners. The rules are simple: You must be a follower of this blog to be entered. If you mention this on your own site, you will be entered a second time.

Simply let me know if you want to be entered in this contest and if you blogged about it. The contest closes January 12 and I will announce the winners by January 15.

Thank you for your support and I look forward to reading your work. Happy writing!

Monday, January 3, 2011

7 Steps To Preparing A Writer's Retreat

I have been talking with some friends about starting a writer’s retreat. The consensus has been excitement, but also curiosity about how that might work. Most of them (including myself) have never been to a writer’s retreat. So how do you set one up? Below are seven steps to creating your ideal retreat.
1.)    Who will attend? - This depends on what you want and need in a retreat. Some people want a large group to draw more energy. I like the idea of gathering a small group of friends, three to ten people, for the day or weekend. It’s more personal.
2.)    Make a Budget – Once you know who or approximately how many will attend, you can plan expenses. Lodging, food and speaker’s fees are the most important considerations. (Personally, I don’t care to hire a speaker for a retreat. I go to conferences for that.) You will need to decide how to split the costs evenly between attendees. Also, someone invariably has to cancel at the last minute so decide ahead of time (and make sure the attendees are aware) if you will have a return on your money policy.
3.)    Planning Location – I prefer a calm setting, perhaps at my family’s cabin at the lake, but any environment that will allow you to escape your routine environment is beneficial. Be aware of what your location will provide: outlets for various technology, work space, seating, and food - and what you need or will be allowed to bring yourself.
4.)    Creating the schedule - If you keep the group small, you can tailor your schedule to specific needs. You may want a single day retreat or if you all have the time, an entire weekend or (in writer’s Heaven) a whole week. If you are planning a large gathering, you may want to have speakers, break-out sessions, critique times etc. Either way, be sure you leave time for writer’s to brainstorm, plot and critique together as well as solitary time. The first talk, class or workshop should provide an overview of the schedule and what you hope to accomplish, even if it has been discussed beforehand. From that point, alternate between group and individual time. This gives the writer a chance to digest and begin implementing tips offered.
5.)    Tools needed – In our technologically driven society, it’s rare for someone to leave home without a cell phone. That usually includes photo, video or internet capability. However, a true retreat means cutting yourself off from everyday distractions to indulge in your writing. So determine beforehand what will be provided, what attendees need to bring with them and even what you want to ban from the retreat. Some writers prefer to hand write their notes, drafts or perform edits; just as many prefer to do all of their work on their laptop. Internet connection is useful for research, but like the cell phone, it can become a bigger distraction than an aide. A printer may be desired as well. I prefer to leave the printer out of the retreat because you eat into your group time waiting for books to be printed out. Consider asking your attendees to print their work before coming unless you plan to allow large amounts of individual time. You also need wires, charger, extra batteries and everything necessary to ensure the technology is always working. A TV and DVD player may also be desired. Books and ebooks might be available for inspiration and examples, but don’t get sucked into reading and forget to write. An alarm clock or timer can help you stay on schedule. Comfortable clothes are a must!
6.)    Leave time for fun – Nothing keeps the creative juices flowing like time with friends that share your passion. I have heard of some retreats that offer time at a spa, massages, shopping, dinners out etc. Obviously, the amount of time and options you have available will be determined by the length and size of the retreat. A few friends getting together for the day might just enjoy a leisurely lunch together.
7.)    When it’s over - Maybe you’ll find a group of writers you click with so well that you have to see them every year or several times a year. Follow up. Ensure that the new professional relationships are nurtured through emails, blogs or a website. A week or so after the retreat, seek feedback. Ask each participant what made the retreat great and for any suggestions to make future retreats even better.
Retreats are meant to be a relaxing time of creativity and accomplishment. By planning ahead, you’ll save time and ensure success for everyone involved.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Poem

Mark the beginning - a new start of time,
Where dreams can emerge and talents shine.
Leave behind all your worries and stress,
Goals are born to be put to the test.
Align responsibilities and raise your hopes,
Beg to succeed or the strength to cope.
With family and friends we hold dear,
We join to celebrate a new year.
I pray to our Savior in Heaven,
You all have a Happy 2011.

Please feel free to share your own New Year Poems or wishes!