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

Monday, March 28, 2022

February Scribbler Box: Romance

Some of you may remember that about two years ago I tried a subscription box service called Scribbler. If you'd like to learn more about what attracted me to this service, or why I discontinued it after more than a year, please click the link in my "Labels" below.

However, one theme I always regretted they did not offer a focus on was romance. In February this year, they finally offered it. I felt the timing was perfect as I had just discovered my YA short romance "Paper Faces" will be published this summer. I excitedly ordered the box, and anxiously awaited the end of the month when the themed treasure would arrive. 

To say I was disappointed is a mild statement.

First, for those who are not familiar with this service, you can pay a fee (one time, annually, or monthly) to receive shipments of "selected for you material" pertaining to writing. Touted as "The only subscription box for novelists - created by authors, for authors." The monthly box can be purchased for just $27.50 - $29.99. However, don't forget the additional ten dollars or so a month in shipping.

The website claims the box will help novelists do the three most important things: stay motivated, improve craft, and connect with writing professionals. Inside each box is - curated writerly gifts, a new release novel, a revision letter from an editor, an exclusive invitation to chat with a publishing professional, and a collectible "writing passport" from a bestselling author. To learn more: https://www.goscribbler.com/

So, why was I disappointed? I mentioned before that I had discontinued the service a year or so ago. I did not feel the value of what I received matched the cost I put into it each month. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed SOME of the books and liked SOME of the gifts that came in the boxes, but much of it was not something I wanted (I don't drink coffee, collect pins to wear on my person, or some of what I felt was wasteful nonsense). 

Yet, I was genuinely enthusiastic about this box. I had enjoyed some of the other themes. The writerly gifts usually tie into the theme of that month by genre, holiday, or the book itself. This month did not. I wanted to LOVE the romance box. I didn't. 

As always, the first thing you see upon opening the box is a writing exercise/contest postcard. Each month provides a new challenge for writers to practice. The "Curated Writerly Gifts" this month include a pencil pouch with a text conversation format reading "what are you up to?!" and a reply of "oh you know...writing", a package of cocoa mix, brown pencils, and a pin with a pie chart of the writing process (see picture above). None of this is related to the theme of romance and it felt like a missed opportunity as well as a rip off of expectations.

As usual, this box also came with an inside look at the publishing process for this featured author, and an exclusive invitation to chat with a publishing professional: Jessica Tribble, Senior Editor at Thomas & Mercer, the collectible 'Writing Passport' with the author discussing the theme and the book which I am not overly excited about either.

The new release included this month: Digging Up Love (Taste of Love) by Chandra Blumberg

Alisha Blake works her magic in the kitchen, creating delectable desserts for her grandfather’s restaurant in rural Illinois. Though Alisha relishes the close relationship she has with her family, she can’t help but dream about opening a cookie shop in Chicago. She may be a small-town baker, but Alisha has big ambitions.

Then a dinosaur bone turns up in her grandparents’ backyard. When paleontologist Quentin Harris arrives to see the discovery for himself, he’s hoping that the fossil will distract him from a recent painful breakup. Instead, he finds Alisha―and sparks fly. The big-city academic and the hometown baker seem destined for a happily ever after.

But Alisha is scared to fall in love. And Quentin’s trying to make a name for himself in a competitive field, which gets even more complicated when the press shows up at the dig site. For love to prevail, the two may have to put old bones aside―and focus on the future.

So, what do you think? Am I overreacting? Am I being too picky? Have you read anything from this author? Do you subscribe to any boxing services? What do you recommend? Have you heard of SCRIBBLER? Are you tempted to join?

Monday, March 21, 2022

12 Spring and Summer Writing Opportunities

It's finally Spring, the busiest time of year for my family. It's also the time of year when many submission calls are open and deadlines are fast approaching. 

1) Chicken Soup for the Soul: https://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/possible-book-topics - This is one company I have experience with and will continue to recommend. They always have a call out for multiple topics. They also pay fairly well in both cash and contributor copies. If you are interested in writing creative nonfiction, please check out the link above.

2) The First Line: https://www.thefirstline.com/ - Accepting fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, the next available deadlines are May 1, August 1, and November 1. Please click the link above to learn more.

3) FLASH 500 COMPETITION:     http://www.flash500.com/ - This is an annual set of three competitions for 500 words or less - in the categories of flash fiction, short story, and novel opening! This quarterly open-themed competition has closing dates of March 31, June 30, September 30 and December 31. The results will be announced within six weeks of each closing date and the three winning entries each quarter will be published on this website. Entry fee: £5 for one story, £8 for two stories. Optional critiques: £15 per story. The competition is open to anyone over the age of 18, including non-UK entrants. Only manuscripts which are within the 500-word limit will be accepted. Entries must be in English.

4) MONTHLY SHORT STORY CONTEST https://shortstory.substack.com/p/coming-soon - Deadline the end of each month. Winner chosen by the 15th of the following month. Their missioin is to revive the art of the short story, support artists, and produce something wonderful. The winner each month receives $100 for the chosen story plus half of subscription revenue to be sent by Paypal, Zelle, or check. For example, the  payout for Jan should be $225 or higher. Send submission to shortstorystack@gmail.com. Reprints are fine. Word limit ranges from only six words to as much as 10,000 words. Only the winner will be published and rights will only transfer for the winning story. 

5) EATON LITERARY AGENCY SHORT STORY/ARTICLE AWARD http://www.eatonliterary.com/submissions.htm - Deadline March 31, 2022. A $500 prize will be awarded to the winner of our short story and article program, open to any unpublished short story or nonfiction work less than 10,000 words. 

6) WERGLE FLOMP HUMOR POETRY CONTEST https://winningwriters.com/our-contests/wergle-flomp-humor-poetry-contest-free - Deadline April 1, 2022. First Prize: $2,000 plus a two-year gift certificate from our co-sponsor, Duotrope (a $100 value). Second Prize: $500. Honorable Mentions: 10 awards of $100 each. Top 12 entries published online. Length limit: 250 lines maximum. No restriction on age of author. Both unpublished and previously published work accepted. Authors from all countries eligible except Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Crimea (due to US government restrictions). The poem you submit should be in English. 

7) ALPINE FELLOWSHIP WRITING PRIZE https://alpinefellowship.com/writing-prize - Deadline April 1, 2022. The winner will receive a £10,000 cash prize. A £3,000 cash prize will go to the second place, and £2,000 to the third place runner up. The winner and two runners up are invited to attend the symposium. Awarded for the best piece of writing on the theme of the Alpine Fellowship 2022 - Freedom. Open to all nationalities and to anyone aged 18 and above. All genres permitted. A maximum of 2,500 words per entry. Limited to one entry per person. 

8) FABLE COMPETITION https://www.mrrls.com/fable - Deadline April 2, 2022. Pays £500 for Winner - £100 Second. In no more than 350 words enter to write a 21st Century Fable in the style of the great master, Robert Louis Stevenson.

9) BRILLIANT FLASH FICTION WRITING CONTEST https://brilliantflashfiction.com/2022/01/05/welcome-2022-writing-contest/#more-5044 - Deadline April 15, 2022. Limit 500 words. First prize $200. Second prize $100. Third prize $50. Shortlisted stories receive publication and $20. One entry per author. Open to writers worldwide, no age requirement. Fiction only, please. No poetry or essays.

10) Thrill of the Hunt Anthology #8- Paranormal Paradox: Submissions | PALMAS PUBLISHING (palmaspress.com) - Deadline April 30, 2022. Normally, every species of being stays in their lane, mingling and confronting only when necessary. Paranormals are the norm, but now a different kind of paranormal is breeding. One seeking to end all others and become the dominant species. Who will win? Who will rule? Vampires, werewolves, shifters, witches, reapers, astrals and more are determined to be the dominant species. Throw in the human variant and the paranormal paradox begins. 

11) THE BLACK ORCHID NOVELLA AWARD https://www.nerowolfe.org/htm/literary_awards/black_orchid_award/Black_Orchid_award_intro.htm  - Deadline May 31, 2022. Entries must be 15,000 to 20,000 words in length, and submitted by the deadline. Each entry must be an original unpublished work of fiction that conforms to the tradition of the Nero Wolfe series. The mystery should be "traditional" in flavor. The crime must be solved using the deductive abilities of the sleuth. No coincidences. The killer must be known to the victim. No random psycho shootings. The characters (male or female) must have an engaging relationship.

12) Hellbound http://www.hellboundbookspublishing.com/subs-anthologies.html - Deadlines of various horror poetry, short stories and novels from now hrough the end of summer.

What about you? Is this a particularly busy time for you? Are there any great books we should read? How about great submission opportunities?

Monday, March 14, 2022

St. Patrick's Day

March 17 is the traditional day to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. If you're interested in participating, but not quite sure how, check out this article I shared a couple of years ago: Irish Classics, Prompts, and Party Tips.

Feeling Lucky? Check out the post about where I and a few other writers get their inspiration: https://iwsganthologies.blogspot.com/2022/03/feeling-lucky.html

Some additional educational and fun holiday ideas include:

  • Streaming Irish jigs and songs.
  • Watching traditional Irish dance on YouTube or chrome cast to your TV.
  • Adding green food dye to your short bread cookie recipes.
  • Sewing or gluing crazy Green Irish hats, ties or belts using felt, ribbons, or fabrics.
  • Cooking Irish Stew, scones and clotted cream or butter from scratch or from cans. 
  • Telling Irish fables about leprechauns, rainbows, pots of gold, or gnomes.
  • Reminding your children about the “kiss of the blarney” and the folkloric tradition known today as “the gift of the gab”.
  • Research the real St. Patrick.

How about you? Are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day? How are you spending this time?

Monday, March 7, 2022

2022 A to Z Challenge and Changes

First, congratulations to Anjela Curtis, the new graphic artist for the "A to Z Challenge."

Second, the challenge has a new website where you can find all things A to Z related. Click here to visit and receive updates.

Important Dates for 2022

Mar 7- Theme Reveal OPEN
Mar 21- Theme Reveal CLOSES
Mar 30– Master List OPENS — officially sign up for the challenge
April 1 - 30 Posts for this challenge.
April 10- Master List CLOSES
May 2- Reflections
May 7- Reflections CLOSES
May 16- Road Trip starts

Unfortunately, I won't have time to participate this year. I'm working two jobs, trying to complete another degree, and still find time for my family and their events.

How about you? Have you participated in this challenge before? Will you be participating in this year's challenge?

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

IWSG: Conflicted About Writing

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive. Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.

Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?

MY ANSWER - Yes, but mostly with my nonfiction. I often feel the need to edit, or gloss over some things in my nonfiction writing if I feel it will hurt the feelings of friends or loved ones. There are a lot of stories, or scenes, that I have not shared publicly because I have not yet found the way to stay true to the tale while eliminating the negative light it might cast on some. I would never intentionally publish something that might cause pain. However, it means that some of my most emotional tales may never be seen by others. I'm okay with this for now.

How about you? Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How do you handle it?