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New Clarity of Night Contest

Jason Evans, owner of Clarity of Night website, is sponsoring a short fiction contest. He has these contests regularly and uses pictures to stimulate the writer’s imagination. He also supplies prizes.

This contest starts on Wednesday, July 8th, 2009, and will be co-hosted by Jaye Wells, newly published author of Red-Headed Stepchild. The contest is open for one week only!

Story or poem limit is 250 words. Any genre or form is welcome so long as it is inspired by the “In Vino Veritas” (Truth in Wine) photo. Rules, and the photo, have been posted here:

Everyone gets an early peek at the picture so participants can start thinking of what they’d like to write. Get those creative juices moving – this is a fun contest where your story will be posted and commented on by other writers.

Be there or be square!

NYC Midnight Tweet-length story contest

I signed up and was sent a link to my group number and word. All I had to do was come with at least one story of no more than 140 characters in five hours.

What an idea for a writing contest! As those of you who belong to Twitter know, each tweet can be no longer than 140 characters – including spaces and punctuation. Some people have been playing around with this form of flash fiction for a while now. I even considered trying it out, but hadn’t come up with any ideas.

Voila! New writing contest pops up on my writing radar. NYC Midnight is sponsoring the twee-length story contest.

The first round has been completed, including the judging. I was assigned to Group 5, with the word “punch.” I submitted three stories using the word “punch,” and one of them has been selected to move into the next round. Woo hoo!

You can read the stories – and vote for mine – here:

My story is the 7th from the top on the Group 5 page.

Oh, yes. Read all the stories.  😀

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Blood Lines

I just uploaded my most recent flash story at If you’re a member there, please take a minute to review the story. It’s located under Reading > Static Items > Blood Lines.

If you’re not a member there, let me know if you’d like to read the story.

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10,000 hours

Recently, I’ve read that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master at anything. That means that we need to read (like writers) and write for 10,000 hours to build a foundation from which to launch our art.

How much reading and writing do you do?

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Writing Contest – Flash fiction

Jason Evans at The Clarity of Night blog is preparing to run another flash fiction writing contest. His contests are based on photographs. The piece can be of any genre and will be posted on his blog. The stories get comments from blog readers and other contestants. It’s a good experience for those writers who are shy – it makes you let other people read your work.  🙂

Although the contest doesn’t start until January 6, 2009, you’ll only have about one week – maybe a day longer – to submit your story. Find out more at Jason’s blog:

This new contest is called Ascension. Here’s the photo it will be based on:

Photo for the new flash fiction contest.

Photo for the new flash fiction contest.

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New President-Elect

It’s a relief to say that we have a new president-elect in the USA . Big sigh of relief! Maybe now I won’t be considered a traitor when I disagree with him.  [tongue in cheek]

The writing’s been slow these past months. Making a big move has taken all my attention and energy. Although I wrote a flash piece, I haven’t gone back to it to incorporate the comments I received from the workshop.

I’m watching The Starter Wife on the USA channel. She’s started her writing career after a divorce. Her first attempt was a children’s book – which was published but didn’t sell well. Then she joined a writer’s group and read a passage from her journal. They were all amazed – and she found her "voice." Now she’s written a screenplay, and it’s liked by the two people who have reviewed it.

This story reminds me that not all writers should write all things. Some of us are better at stories. Others are great at nonfiction. There are those who need the words in long stories to get to everything. And there are those who can cut through the crap and give us everything in very few words.

Then there are those of us who aren’t sure where our real strength lies. And we keep trying different things to find out. I’m still exploring – are you?

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Tired of being called a traitor

I received yet another link to a video calling Obama a traitor. This one was posted by a young veteran of the Iraq invasion and occupation. Of course the young people in our military forces are doing a good job! Of course they are brave and valiant! This war is not their fault – and they aren’t doing anything wrong.

As a veteran myself, I understand the difference between being a member of the military and doing your duty from the decisions of the civilian command structure.

Here is my message to my childhood friend who sent the link to me today.

While I respect and honor your political views. they are different from mine. I never supported the invasion of a country that was breaking under the stress of UN resolutions. A country that was patrolled by US air power. A country that should have been oil rich, but was close to starving because the dictator would not leave. And a country that could not have made war on the US under any circumstances. The dictator did not support terrorists – that would have given power to someone besides himself and his family.

Our troops are brave and valiant. They are doing what they’re ordered to do – just as I did in the ’70s. I wasn’t allowed to wear my uniform off base because civilians were still pelting us with spoiled vegetables. My four years in US Navy are among the proudest that I have. When I disagree with this war, I am called a traitor by the very people you support. That hurts me to my very soul.

When we, as Americans, feel free to discuss basic issues facing our country – in a civil manner – then we are free. Until the name-calling and personal attacks stop, we are not free.

Please take me off of your list of people to send conservative comments, videos, messages, etc.

I value our renewing relationship and hope this request does not hinder it. I hope you will respect my political views in the same way that I respect yours. We can agree to disagree.

I hope all Americans will vote in November. Please support the candidates that you agree with. If you don’t support any of the candidates on your ballot, write in someone. Any one. But do vote.

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Focus on the negative

As a firm believer in working on our strengths, instead of our weaknesses, I also believe that a positive mental attitude carries us farther.

Recently, my positive attitude has been sorely tested. We’re working to make a big change in our lives and I’ve become fatigued. Not tired. Fatigued.

Mind numbing. Thought swallowing. Brain wading through quick sand. That kind of fatigued. It also includes muscle weakness. And don’t forget the pain – joints and muscles.

So I’m finding it difficult to stay positive. Difficult to know and use my strengths. I can’t write and I can’t read.

When this quote was sent in a newsletter that I get, it struck a chord in me. And I felt better instantly.

It’s not our disadvantages or shortcomings that are ridiculous,
but rather the studious way we try to hide them, and our desire
to act as if they did not exist.

Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837)

I’d love for my body and brain to work like they used to, but that’s not going to happen. Instead of wasting time and energy ignoring – or even worse, denying – these challenges that I have, I’ve decided to work with them. Rest when I need to rest. Even when that means that I can’t write for a week. Hire people to do physical labor that tires me out. Even though that costs a lot.

If I’m going to continue writing, reading, taking care of my animals, and spending quality time with my husband, I have to change my attitude.

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What do editors / agents / publishers really want?

Have you ever wondered what an editor, agent, publisher really wants in a story? Do you have story ideas that seem great in the moment, but become just like everyone else’s? Is your story a cliche?

If so, you’re not alone. We all come up with a plot that has conflict. Conflict has only three ways of being: self with universe, self with other, self with self. How many variations can there be?

Lots of agents are blogging these days. And some publishers are, too. Here are a couple of blogs / sites where you can read what the folks who do the buying and selling want – and don’t want.

Nathan Bransford, literary agent, Curtis Brown Ltd.

Strange Horizons , weekly online magazine

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First reader at Flashing Swords Magazine

A couple of months ago, the managing editor of Flashing Swords Magazine asked for volunteers to read submitted stories. The magazine publishes mostly Sword and Sorcery (SS) stories, so I was very interested.

The editor sent me a story to review and comment on, and I sent her my comments. After that, I was on the team of first readers. Woo hoo!

The main reason that I do this is to help other writers while I learn from them. Every story is as unique as its writer. The plot, characters, settings, etc. are different in every story, so I learn excellent techniques in every part of story telling. When I think about what worked in the story, and what didn’t, I have to go deep into the writing craft. That helps me to think about everything in my own stories.

The managing editor of FS, CrystalWizard, has a mission. She makes sure that every writer who submits a story to the magazine receives a critique of that story. It goes above and beyond anything I’ve experienced. I love being a part of that mission!

Take a look at the magazine:  Flashing Swords Magazine. And while you’re there, look at the new anthology called The Return of the Sword. If you’re into SS, this collection of stories is excellent!