Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Join, Submit and Publish

Authors need that one publishing credit to their name, one acquisition editor to take a leap of faith on their craft, before they can join a writing guild or other "published only" authors groups. 
At Writers of Kern, we invite authors to join, to submit and to publish.

Ahead of the game as always, Writers of Kern founded WOK Press with this in mind. And don't you worry, they're accepting submission right now for their 2018 Anthology.

Authors must be a member to submit ($10 for students, $65 first year, $45 renewal)
Once you've joined, you'll also have access to free critique groups to polish your submission. You'll also have a chance to enter WOK's Fall Writing Contest, winners are given automatic submission to the anthology (another publication credit).

Flash Fiction, Short Stories, Poetry, Cover Art/Photo Art and Museful Moments
You can send over as many submissions in each category as you deem worthy (just please, please, please, follow the submission guidelines)

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Calling All Volunteers

A quality critique can have more influence on an author’s evolving craft than any other aspect in learning to write—including (dare, I say) reading. Agents and editors alike question prospective authors on their use of critique groups. Writing contests across the nation have renovated their competitions, opting for professional critiques instead of cash prizes.

Critiques are, and will continue to be, the driving force behind published authors. Even with my acceptance of the presidential nomination, Writers of Kern will provide high caliber critique groups—but we need your help.

Volunteers, you are needed. There are plenty of opportunities to serve, emailing prospective authors, organizing dates and times, checking on new critique groups—whether you have five seconds or five hours, you are needed.

Email for more information. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Contests and Competitions

Submit to the following competitions for the chance to add award winning author to your literary resume.

26th Annual Lone Star Writing Competition (Romance, Women's Fiction)
Submission Fee: $25
Deadline: June 8, 2018
Cash Prize: $50 per category plus agent critique for finalists
Info: http://nwhrwa.com/writers-events/lonestar-contest/

Marguerite McGlinn Prize for Fiction
Deadline: June 15, 2018
Cash Prize: $2,500

FIL Prize in Romance Languages (Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction)
Deadline: June 22, 2018
Cash Prize: $150,000

Grants for Artist Projects (Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction)
Deadline: June 25, 2018
Cash Prize: $1,500
Info: http://artisttrust.org/index.php/for-artists/money

Pages from the Heart Contest (Romance, Women's Fiction)
Submission Fee: $16-$26 check site for more info
Deadline: June 30, 2018
Cash Prize: $30 & $50 plus critique/feedback

Winning Writers: North Street Book Prize (Fiction)
Submission Fee: $60
Deadline: June 30, 2018
Cash Prize: $3,000

28th Annual Golden Opportunity Contest (Romance, Women's Fiction)
Submission Fee: $35
Deadline: July 1, 2018
Cash Prize: $50 plus agent/editor feedback

The Writer/Rebecca Contest (Women's Fiction, Romance)
Submission Fee: $20-$25 (see site for more info)
Deadline: July 31, 2018
Prize: Chapter support for publication

Monday, May 28, 2018

Author Etiquette: Remember the Mouse

During a recent collaboration, I heard a few veteran authors and agents bemoan the loss of social etiquette within the publishing world. It's easy to overlook, I am in fact writing this blog alone and you, dear reader, are most likely reading this, alone. Reading, writing and editing can be lonely but that doesn't mean we kick social graces to the curb.

Remember the Mouse
Authors are intimate creatures, we pen our emotions/dreams and expect validation not criticism. 
We are writers, visionaries, dreamers...we are second only to God (yes, I had a client say this to me).

In reality, our masterpiece needs to be buffed and chipped until we uncover our little diamond in the rough. We need our editors. We need our critiques.
It's hard on the ego and tough on the pride. It's easy to dismiss a critique or belittle critique members but remember, they are future published authors. It's better to have a friend than a foe in this cozy industry. 

If you hire a professional editor and do not agree with his/her edits, be careful and speak kindly. Many editors are also on acquisition boards (those lovely people who decide if you will be published or not) and they are not required to disclose this information. 
If you speak ill of an editor/agent/author, chances are, they will hear it and you will pay the price.
Remember the fable, it was the lion who ended up needing the mouse, not the other way around.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Shannon the Soldier

Thanks to the internet, not much is hidden. I was one of many who stood shoulder to shoulder with Shannon Hale (well, my shoulder, her elbow) during the Storymakers Conference in early May. She's not only a bestselling author several times over but a woman of character. She's a soldier for inclusion, regardless of where you or I stand. 

During Storymakers Conference, we experienced an aggressive stance against harassment. No other conference posted a policy at registration, during general meetings and in emails leading up to the event. Every notice encouraged contact, whether it be via phone, email or face to face. We, not just women but authors in general, were safe and embolden to "see something, say something." 

And yet, just an hour north of that same area, is a completely different story. Shannon Hale is at the center of a raging media storm. Ever the advocate, Shannon Hale privately expressed concern to FanX, formerly Salt Lake's Comic Con, about the safety of women regarding a particularly celebrated male author with predatory tendencies.

Sadly, Bryan Brandenburg, the director of FanX, responded with a dismissal "I've been sensitive to these issues...before it became trendy with #metoo" and told Shannon to "sit this one out."

Let's just say it escalated from there and Bryan tweeted an edited version of his emails along with Shannon's personal contact information. Unwittingly, his tweet united the dozens of other women being dismissed by FanX in the exact same fashion. 

Shannon was not alone, she was just the loudest voice. Her entire message was "listen to women, believe women." Because of her, the entire publishing world is listening. Thank you Shannon for your strength and advocacy.

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Finish Line is in Sight

Over the past few months, we've learned and loved every post of our Dan McGuire Blog Challengers. Each blogger will be honored at the Annual WOK Honors for their completion and dedication (tickets still available).

Our blog challenge is one of many membership perks Writers of Kern provides (critique groups, writing contests, WOK imprint...). For more information on joining our ranks, click here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

When Editing Takes a Hike

I've yet to be stumped with a client's manuscript but my own work is another story. Countless hours of staring at a blinking cursor can bring on an obscene level of restlessness. 
Sometimes a bruising run or a long hike under the sun can help, and then other times, I take the words with me. 
The speed is slow, the steps awkward, but problems unravel and the story unfolds, allowing me to tackle the glaring flaws. It's only here, when I tell the internal editor in me to take a hike, that the story gets the intensive care it needs.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Armed with Kindness

Kind Girls Make Strong Women attended Franklin's STEM Community Activity. This wasn't our first invitation but it will forever be the most memorable.

 Two young women, kind and strong, spent the last year dedicating their free time to bettering our little part of the world. Sixty five families were given Christmas, parks were cleaned, the hungry were fed...and so much more.
 These girls were a little embarrassed; they're used to putting the spotlight on others, not accepting it for themselves. They were given two medals, Friends of Franklin and Making a Difference.
They were also introduced to Dignity's Hello Human Kindness marketing team (expect collaboration in the very, very near future).
Earlier today I was driving and blinking back tears. To say it'd been a rough day would be laughable. It's been a rough week and that dark fear of failure that every parent feels was at my side. But then tonight, hearing how these girls touched other people's lives...tears came for another reason entirely. 

That's how kindness works. 
It spreads, strengthening us so that we can turn and strengthen others. After all, kind girls make strong women.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Contests and Competitions

 (click on the appropriate links for more info)

2018 Golden Rose Contest
Fee:  April 1–30, $30 RCRW members, $35 RWA non-RCRW members.
Deadline: April 30, 2018

Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing
Parent-Writer Fellowships
April 21, 2018
Entry Fee: 
Cash Prize: 

Whiting Foundation
Cash Prize: $40,000
Entry Fee: $0
Application Deadline: 5/1/18

Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society
Cash Prize: $7,500
Entry Fee: $35
Application Deadline: 5/1/18

Del Sol Press
Cash Prize: $1,500
Entry Fee: $30
Application Deadline: 5/15/18

Cash Prize: $2,000
Entry Fee: $24
Application Deadline: 5/15/18

National Book Foundation
Cash Prize: $10,000
Entry Fee: $135
Application Deadline: 5/16/18

Monday, April 16, 2018

Three Weeks Left

Giving a shout out to all our Dan McGuire Blog Challengers!

Roughly three weeks left and these beauties are blogging to the bitter end. Give 'em a pat on the back (or a comment on their site).

Ann Cook http://cookpeak.com
Joan http://joanraymondwriting.com/blog
Sudha doctorslounge4all.blogspot.com
Shirley http://pelicanfamily.com/blog
Patrick http://patternsofexplanation.wordpress.com
Judy Salamacha www.judysalamacha.com
Srey Khoy www.sreykhoy.com
Brent Gill brentgwriter.blogspot.com
Isabella Tagore passioncruit.com
Judy Kukuruza definitionstruths.blogspot.com
Lily www.justonething.site
Mary Morton www.iwondergirl.com
Carla Martin carlajoypoetry.com

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Prescription

Harry Potter is my daughter's service animal and hands down, the greatest prescription a doctor could give Rose (she asked me to refer to her as Rose, her new pen name).

At eleven years old, this kid oozes charisma and creativity. She's president of her school, runs the yearbook club and pretty much the entire student body. She's kind, gentle and all that is good in the world but sometimes, her brain shuts down and she stops functioning. This only happens in medical situations, such as going to the pediatrician, dentist or getting blood drawn. A glaze slides over her eyes and she becomes animalistic with little understanding of what took place. 

After receiving a prescription from her psychiatrist, this little beauty hauled Harry to her appointments. He'd lick her face, sit on her lap or give a little whimper to remind her to breathe, in and out until she realizes she's safe. Her ability to function in those stressful moments was all because of a bundle of black fur.

At least, it's supposed to work that way. Rose needed to update her immunizations for middle school next year. Her records showed she was missing a vaccine. We show up to her pediatrician's office, Harry in tow. After changing into the hideous medical gown, Rose's hands started to shake. Her skin broke out in chills, panic on the verge. Harry began licking her when she didn't respond.

The pediatrician walked in and stared at the dog. She backed up against the door stating she's terrified of dogs. Rose started humming and rocking on the exam table. Harry jumped to the table to get to her. 
The doctor yelped, flattening against the door. She yelled for the dog to be removed. Harry laid on top of Rose, forcing her to still, to calm down.
The doctor screamed at me to take the dog out. Harry turned toward the doctor, whimpering for her to calm down for Rose's sake. 
The doctor snapped at me. Harry jumped down, standing between her and Rose.

I snapped a leash on Harry and looked from both Rose to the doctor, not sure what to do. The doctor said service dogs aren't allowed and that she'd prescribe medication for Rose's anxiety. She yelled (because Rose and Harry were too loud) that service dogs were for the blind, not someone Rose (she quite literally said, she has good grades, she doesn't need a dog). 

The doctor then approached Rose for the exam. Rose lost it, and then Harry leapt towards her, trying to do the job he was meant to do. The doctor panicked and shrieked, ensuing complete and total chaos. In one fell swoop, the enormous amount of effort we'd taken to ease Rose's functionality in medical situations was destroyed. 

At the end of the appointment (if I could call it that) the doctor said Rose already had the "missing" vaccine. The office hadn't updated the records properly.

I took my trembling child and her dog home. She didn't speak, her lips gray and her skin ashen. She's still ashamed. 

Doctors are human, that I know. But so is Rose. She kept repeating the law stating no one can take her dog from her (it is illegal to separate a service dog from the handler). 

And so here I am, begging for understanding. Next time you see someone with a service dog, remember Rose and Harry. Instead of judging, be kind.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Critique Central

It's the umpteenth time you've tackled your villain's death scene and all you can focus on killing is the blinking cursor and the pretty adverb you already deleted twice before.

We've been there, shoot, some of us are still there.

Maybe you've even taken the next step and joined a critique group only to find they're just not that into writing. Or they've read your thriller so many times they've memorized the dialogue and are just as blind as you are.

If you're stuck in your critique group, switch it up. Or join a second one. 
If you don't live near any writers, join an online group (or two or three). 

Critique groups force us to do one thing, schedule. We submit on a certain day and meet on another, whether in person or through a computer. More than anything else, critique groups give us a foundation with our fellow authors. 
We write. 
We critique and then we write again.

Click here for help on joining a critique group.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Word Count vs Page Count

Wondering why your agent of choice asks for a word count instead of the number of pages?

Page length can vary widely on the publishing end. If the font is a bit smaller or the margins are a bit wider, or the page size is a bit larger, it will result in a completely different page count.

If the agents and editors (the publishing industry as a whole) used page numbers, the number would constantly change depending on the stage (from the writer's computer to a bookstore's shelf). Word count, however, stays pretty much the same.

Throughout the years, word count has shifted back and forth, especially with genre fiction. There might be a few outliers (Agatha Christie, JK Rowling...) who have much higher or much lower word count than their peers. But, unless you have an absolute slam dunk of a book, you'll spook an industry that has become increasingly risk adverse. 

Even if you opt for the self publishing route, statistics show readers give better reviews (and return for more) with the following word counts.

Novella: 40,000 or less
General Fiction: roughly 80,000
Science Fiction & Fantasy: 115,000 or less
Mystery: 75,000 to 80,000
Young Adult: roughly 60,000

Monday, April 2, 2018

Reverence and Respect

 The entire family sought out historic sites in and around Washington D.C., including Arlington, Virginia, where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier rests. Signs requested silence and I am ever so grateful for the peace those instructions provided. 
  My daughters watched the Changing of the Guard ceremony with quiet reverence. Immediately afterward, we were lucky enough to witness two wreath ceremonies with our rights hands covering our hearts. There are few moments more profound than a bugle playing the taps.
  Damon and I spoke of our grandfathers who'd served but weren't around to tell their stories. We'd already visited and paid our respects to several other war memorials but a living, breathing soul performing for the unknown adds an unfathomable depth.
Not one, but two separate funerals were held that day in the sacred cemetery. It was a gentle reminder of our mortality and the cost of our freedom. 

We paid tribute to the Eternal Flame and other past presidents. The greatest moments followed us, blossoming again each time one of my daughter's asked another poignant question. Their begging for understanding reminded me of all that I have, not just in this country but in my life.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

WOK's Future...and You

Your back aches and your neck is kinked from hours and hours of writing. You've plastered your rejection letters with pride. You've read the books, attended the conferences...but your resume is still lacking a bit of shine.

The publishing industry looks for dedication and craft. Simply put, if you're dedicated enough, even the roughest draft will become polished.

Volunteer. And volunteer with pride.

We're gearing up for our 2018-2019 year and are on the lookout for just that.

Here's just a few of our needs...

Critique Co-Coordinator
Co-Vice Presidents (2)
Critique Group Leaders

Friday, March 23, 2018

Helping Animals Live Tomorrow

This post is for my daughters. 
Once a quarter, they host a donation drive for a worthy non-profit. They're driven with compassion to change the world (no matter how small it is).

If you're on Instagram or Facebook, you can follow their efforts by searching for Kind Girls Make Strong Women.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Child's Heart

Two of my daughters earned new phones (that was a grandparent deal, not one of mine). The younger of the two couldn't sit still, her excitement palpable. She played with the features, the sound at full volume. She took videos and pictures of everyone in the house, pets included. By the afternoon, the older of the two bared her teeth and all but strangled the younger.

Older (and supposedly wiser) she berated the younger and went too far. Damon and I intervened and took her new phone. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth, not to mention the full court defense she launched. And yet, Damon and I said, no. She had to take responsibility for her mistreatment of her little sister.

It wasn't ten minutes later that the younger came to us in tears, big crocodile droplets. She handed me her phone saying, "take my phone and give hers back." When I told her that her sister needed to learn, she responded, "I do too. It's my fault. Take my phone."

Her offer to sacrifice shifted the mood of the entire house. Kindness crept back in and order was restored. It was only a moment of tenderness that invited love in. 

It's been a few weeks since that incident and I can't shake the image of my daughter's tear streaked face begging to take her sister's place.

Compassion leaves a mark, imprints the memory on our hearts. I hope one day I'll be the person my daughter already is. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Best of Pitches, the Worst of Pitches

I absolutely loved judging Writers of Kern's Pitch Contest. Each of these submissions were given at the conference without preparation. I do have a confession, I loved reading the worst pitches. It truly takes talent to purposely write badly.

Best Pitch

Winner: Rossely Harmon
A young troublemaker accidentally turns her town into stone and must embark on the dangerous journey of defeating the Beast on the Mount in order to reverse the spell and get back to her family.

Runner up: Rossely Harmon
Years after witnessing the brutal slaughter of her family by a blood-thirsty dictator, a young Haitian girl attempts to escape the racially divided society by befriending a highly  ranked soldier.

Runner up: Lori Renee
Young love dares to overcome the social stigma and complications of mental illness while searching for a missing teen.

Worst Pitch
Winner: Ian Cant
This may not be the best of books, but on the other hand, it may not be the worst of books either…I think.

Set in a recent revolutionary episode in an exotic foreign locale, the English milord foils his foes and liberates his fair lady. He does a noble thing, which is good but dies at the end, which is not so good. But in between the story is action-packed and no more gory than necessary.

Runner Up: Joan Raymond
All my friends told me this is a good book. It’s like the love story where everyone dies. From Poison. Then one person gets a dog. And then they find out its magic—and everyone comes back to life.

Runner Up: Ava Rose
The characters aren’t nice. The main character dies because of them. She can’t runway. They all die.
The End.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Blogger Help

You might have the blogging system down, posting twice a week or shoot, thrice a week sometimes.
You might feel like you're drowning.

Here's a quick hint.
If you think of something, do a draft. Then leave it.
When you think of something else, write another draft. Even upload a picture.
Pretty soon you have five, maybe eight draft posts. They'll take a bit more love before publishing but it won't be overwhelming.

Bit by bit, you'll have the rest of your twenty six posts. Better yet, you'll be in the habit of writing. You (and your brain) will be trained to write a few times a week, maybe even daily.

You can do this.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Save The Date

Writers of Kern would like to hear from you. Not through the phone or via computer, but in the flesh. Face to face.
Come join us for our first annual Strategy Meeting, April 7th 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

We'll talk about the 2018-2019 year as well as the future of Writers of Kern.

RSVP for details.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Pitch your Best, Pitch your Worst

Writers of Kern is changing its conference game.
For the first time, we're offering a pitch contest like no other. Pitch us your best and pitch us your worst.

Come prepared or do it on the fly. No more than 200 words per pitch.

See you at the conference (whether its your worst or best yet).

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Four adults, three children...one capital

My family (plus my parents) are headed to Washington, DC in just a few weeks. The girls have researched historical sites and museums galore. We'll arrive at the height of Cherry Blossom season and hopefully the end of blistering cold nights.

But, having never been, I'd love to hear about your must-see sites?
Keep in mind, our children are aged eight, eleven and thirteen. They're eager to learn but still fairly naive (the Holocaust museum will have to wait until they're older).

Send your suggestions on over!

It's never too late to join

It doesn't take a poet to be a blogger. It takes just a moment. Join the challenge. 
It's never too late. 

Blog about your spoiled milk. Blog about your family. 
There's nothing too mundane or too insignificant for a post. 

Because here's the deal. We're human. And when we read about someone else's ordinary life, it connects us. And that's what we're all searching for. 

You don't need to be eloquent and you don't need to be glamorous. You just need to be you.

Email me to join. You can do it.

Monday, March 5, 2018

To Conference or Not to Conference?

What's the deal with writers conferences?
I've been asked this at least a dozen times in the last month. I, for one, am a conference junkie. I'm headed to Writers of Kern in a few weeks and Storymakers in May.
The publishing industry is a far cry from the loner's paradise it once was. Agents (like this one) attend for "three reasons: relationships, relationships, relationships."
Only at a writers conference can we experience a high concentration of creative energy. There's a fluidity to it. The speaker shares an idea or guidance, which in turns touches a writer who then shares their own idea to another writer...and then a writer talks with the speaker, who is given a new idea to ponder.

I've met lifelong friends because of writer conferences. I've not yet attended the conference in May and already this morning I spoke (via Zoom) with future attendees (one from Scotland, one from Idaho and one from Utah). 

For those of you who are sitting behind a screen shaking your head...

Trust me, it's not nearly as scary as you're thinking. Come join the fun, who knows, your future agent might be waiting for you.