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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Speaking Engagement

I'll be speaking at this weekends Bayou Writers Group meeting if you feel like visiting: http://www.bayouwritersgroup.blogspot.com/2013/01/february-2-meeting-update.html

BWG and Texas Gulf Coast Writers are both wonderfully supportive and knowledgable groups with everything from beginning writers to multipublished in multi genres. Attendees include middle school students to members in their eighties and everything in between.

To learn more about TGCW: http://www.texasgulfcoastwriters.blogspot.com/

Do you belong to a suppot group of some kind - critique, writers, or readers groups?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

9 Submission Opportunities

I'm working to finish several projects and wanted to share a few submission opportunities.

The First Line - http://www.thefirstline.com/ Spring: “On a perfect spring morning with flat seas and clear blue skies, Captain Eli P. Cooke made a terrible mistake.” Due date: February 1, 2013.

PATERSON POETRY PRIZE http://www.pccc.edu/home/cultural-affairs/poetry-center NO ENTRY FEE. Deadline February 1, 2013. A prize of $1,000 is given annually for a book of poetry published in the previous year. The winning poet must participate in an awards ceremony and give a reading at the Poetry Center in Paterson, New Jersey. Books of at least 48 pages with a minimum press run of 500 copies are eligible. Publishers may submit three copies of books published in 2012 by February 1.

WRITERS' NAD ARTISTS' YEARBOOK SHORT STORY COMPETITION http://www.writersandartists.co.uk/competitions  We're offering you the chance to win £500, plus a place on an Arvon writing course of your choice! All you have to do is enter a short story (for adults) of no more than 2,000 words, on the theme of 'freedom'. Deadline February 15, 2013. The Arvon Foundation runs four historic writing houses in the UK, where published writers lead week-long residential courses. Covering a diverse range of genres, from poetry and fiction to screenwriting and comedy. The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook short story competition is open to all ages, professions and nationalities.

STORIES SPACE CONTEST http://www.storiesspace.com/competitions/stories-space-%E2%80%9Cdarkness-and-light%E2%80%9D.aspx   NO ENTRY FEE. Stories must be written specifically for this competition and not previously published. Only stand-alone stories will be accepted, not those which are part of a series. This competition is free to enter, and open to everyone over the age of sixteen. There is no limit to the amount of new stories you may enter into this competition. Limit 10,000 words. Theme: Darkness and Light. Deadline February 27, 2013. First place $200, Second place $100, Third place $50.

LIBARTS LONDON PRIZE http://www.libartslondon.co.uk/change/ NO ENTRY FEE. If you could single out one thing that needs to change, what would it be? Use text, video, audio, photographs, or a combination of these to tell your story. Deadline February 28, 2013. First prize: £200. Second prize: £100. Open internationally.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Holiday Stories http://www.chickensoup.com/form.asp?cid=possible_books We are collecting stories for our newest holiday book. Everyone has special memories and stories to tell about Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa - from inspirational and joyous, to heartwarming and humorous. We want to hear about your holiday memories and traditions. NOTE: Please make sure that the stories you are submitting to this book are NEW holiday stories that our editors have not read before. If you have submitted stories to our Christmas books in the past, we have your stories in our database. Also, please make sure your stories are "Santa safe" as we want to keep the magic alive for the young ones. The deadline date for story submissions is February 28, 2013.

Chicken Soup for the Soul : Devotional Stories for Wives http://www.chickensoup.com/form.asp?cid=possible_books   One of the biggest roles that a woman can take on in her lifetime is to become a wife. It takes commitment and dedication to remain loving as the years go by, especially when children and the busyness of daily life can sometimes be overwhelming. If you have a brief true story (up to 500 words) that shows how your faith in God has shaped your journey as a wife, please share it along with an applicable Bible verse and a 2-3 sentence prayer. You will receive $100 for each published devotion ($100 due to the shorter word count than our regular books). The deadline date for submissions is February 28, 2013.

Chicken Soup for the Soul : Lemons to Lemonade http://www.chickensoup.com/form.asp?cid=possible_books  "When life hands you lemons... make lemonade!" And don't only make lemonade but squeeze every last drop of juice from that sour lemon to make the sweetest lemonade possible. We are looking for stories that show how you made the best of a difficult situation and how you turned what seemed like a negative into something positive. Did a change in your attitude help? Did a friend give you the boost you needed to get you past what seemed like a dead end? Tell us your success story and how you made it happen. The deadline date for story and poem submissions is February 28, 2013.

Southern Writers: DUE MARCH 1 – Short story contest: http://www.southernwritersmagazine.com/contest.html

What are you working on? Have you submitted to any of these markets?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Nonfiction Treasures

I've been reading a lot of fiction lately and now I want to switch gears. As I perused my "to be read pile" for a great biography, I began wondering what you were reading.

Are you in the middle of a good book? Do you recommend any nonfiction titles?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Throwing A Book Launch Party (Part III)

This is the third post in a series.

How do I prepare for my book launch party?

Please feel free to share your own experiences, comments and questions about book launches.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Free Books for Download

Available for FREE download on Nook and Kindle.

Have you found any great free reads?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Throwing a Book Launch Party (Part II)

This is the second post in a series. You can find out WHY you should throw a book launch party in Part I.

Where should I host my book launch party?

Online – More authors have begun using “Blog Tours” to promote the release of their work. This way saves time and money. You may be unlikely to draw any press to this method, but word of mouth by other readers and bloggers can be extremely powerful. For more information on this: http://writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/2012/03/setting-up-your-blog-tour.html

Please feel free to share your own experiences, comments and questions about book launches.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Clichés to Avoid

It was a dark and stormy night...

Clichés are boring. Writing is supposed to be a creative process, and there’s nothing creative in overused phrasing. We’re all guilty of falling back on them. Here are a few clichés I’ve caught in my own drafts:

1)      A chill ran up her spine.

2)      His blood turned to ice.

3)      Thoughts raced in her head.

4)      His gut twisted.

5)      He/she released the breath they didn't know they'd been holding.

6)      His eyes swung to her.

7)      It's a nightmare.

It's okay to write your first draft with clichés as long as you go back and change them in revisions. Then you won't stall your writing looking for the perfect word(s).
For more examples try BBC's list of  20 most hated cliches or this list of 681 Clichés to Avoid in Your Creative Writing.
What clichés would you like to see disappear? Which ones have you caught yourself using?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

6 Tests Before Publication

Last week I received critiques and edits back on several different projects. I’m now working on the rewrites.

No matter your publishing route, traditional or self, there are a number of tests for your work and abilities. Instead of rushing to put something out there on Smashwords or CreateSpace or in a query to an agent, we should evaluate if we’re ready.
Here are six ways we can do that:

1) Hire a freelance editor - This is a must for anyone.  To locate a reliable editor, begin with recommendations from other writers you trust. I also suggest this list of editors as a place to start.

2) Join a critique group - Other writers can give qualified and objective feedback about the writing craft and they DO NOT have to write the same genre as you.

3) Beta readers – they can test your story-telling ability. They may not be qualified to catch editing mistakes, but they can give feedback on the story flow, character (dis)likes and plot quality.

4) Enter writing contests – Some are free to enter and they (even the ones that charge) offer written feedback from judges. Sometimes the contest scoring can let us know how we’re doing compared with other writers, and you’ll be getting this critique at a MUCH cheaper rate than when hiring a professional proofreader.

5) Give yourself distance - After completing the first draft, I edit it, but then I usually wait several months before I go back to it and do my final rewrites. The time and distance help me approach my manuscript with a fresh perspective. I’m usually able to see the story more objectively.

Use a how-to-edit book - I recommend Revision And Self-Editing by James Scott Bell and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King.

The point is to create the best possible version of your work before releasing it for publication. Hopefully, these six tests will help us evaluate ourselves more clearly.

What mistakes have kept you from enjoying something you were reading?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Writer's Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions - we hear about them every year. It’s always a good idea to write out your life goals, but have you put down your writing goals?

Some writer goals may include daily word counts, monthly submission ambitions, markets to tackle or even research to complete. No matter what level you consider yourself (beginner or professional) here are four matters to attend to this year.

     1)      Talent – the size of your writing gift doesn’t matter. You can always learn or improve. If you’re a beginner, you are probably overwhelmed about where to begin. Whether this is true or you’re a more advanced author, I suggest reading or revisiting both Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. These two books are as much biographical and philosophical as they are lessons for the writer.

2)       Agent – Make this the year you get an agent. Research which ones represent your favorite authors – this can usually be found in the acknowledgments sections of the book, but you can also find out on the internet. Use search sites such as http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/ , http://www.writersmarket.com/ , and http://absolutewrite.com/ to read reviews of agents in your genre. PLEASE be sure to examine an agents personal website and submission guidelines before you contact them.

3)      Publisher – Whether you have chosen the self-publishing route or not, it’s always a good idea to attempt traditional publishers. More and more authors and agents are suggesting you publish both routes.

4)      Platform – An agent or publisher wants to see you can market and sell yourself before they put any of their own work and money into you. It’s about visibility and requires a focus on developing an unobstructed back and forth between authors and their readers, with the authors — not the publishers — controlling the flow. So get on facebook, twitter, pinterest, LinkedIn, get a blog or a website or do a combination.

As with everything else in life, you’ll need to find a balance for your time. And remember, even the best writers have days when their resolutions flounder. Each day is a new beginning – make them count. Happy New Year!

What are your resolutions?