Monday, December 27, 2010

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World- Last One for 2010!

Song of the Day: Merry Christmas Baby by Hanson

   Hello all! Hope everyone had a great holiday! Just one more Christmas song! It's the last set of opportunities for 2010. Make it count! How's everyone coping with the holidays anyway? I for one am extremely busy! My sister's getting married so in addition to running around with her, I have family coming in from around the US and Trinidad! My family's house is quite noisy! I'll have a little bit of quiet when I get back to my own apartment for a few days, so I intend to take advantage of that and get some writing done before the year is over. That will only be for a few days though. I'll be back at my family's house by the end of the week. Well enough about that, take a look at the opportunities I've found.


1. Boulevard Magazine Short Fiction Contest

    Boulevard Magazine is accepting short stories of up to 8,000 words for it's annual short fiction contest. A prize of $1,500 and publication in Boulevard will be awarded to a writer that hasn't published a nationally distributed book. The deadline is December 31, 2010 and there is an entry fee of $15. (With your entry fee you will receive a year subscription to the magazine.) Please visit their website for official guidelines.

2. Glimmer Train Press- Open Fiction

    Glimmer Train Stories will award a prize of $2,000 and publication in their magazine to one short story. Stories can be 2,000-20,000 words. Submit your story along with an entry fee of $20 by December 31, 2010 for a chance to win. For official rules and guidelines see the link below.

3. Rosebud Dylan Thomas American Poet Prize

    One prize of $1,000 and publication in Rosebud Magazine is given annually to a U.S. poet under the age of 40. Poets may submit up to three poems with a $10 entry fee by December 31, 2010. Please see the Rosebud website for more details.

Also, Don't forget about the Black Fox Fiction Contest going on now. We are also looking for poetry for our new weekly poetry section. Happy Writing! :)


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

And the Winners of my Giveaway Are...

Song of the Day: Baby It's Cold Outside by Vanessa Williams

    Hello all! Christmas is around the corner! I can hardly believe it, especially since I'm not done shopping (I have been known to shop on Christmas Eve in the past!). In my own defense, I've been getting better because these days I usually have it done at least a day before Christmas Eve! Posts this week will be a little shorter as I have a million things going on, hence the reason I didn't post any opportunities yesterday. Today I'm announcing who won my giveaway last week! I'm a bit of a softy so I ended up selecting three people instead of two. I really do appreciate the support from all of you! And don't worry, as I've said in the past, when I get to 100 followers there will be a HUGE CELEBRATION with more giveaways! Drum roll please...ehem...and the winners are:

Ghenet from the blog, "All About Them Words"
Joanna St. James from the blog, "Romance by Joanna St. James"
Shannon O'Donnell from the blog, "Book Dreaming"

Ladies, please contact me via email at Tell me what paperback book you would like to sent to you, and I'll also need your address. Congrats! In case you don't see this post, I'll stop by your blogs to let you know!

Thanks to everyone who participated. I also want to thank my loyal followers, especially Pam and Marquita who have been with me since day one, and who comment on every post! A  Christmas surprise is coming your way! Thanks again everyone for the support!

P.S. Don't forget about the Black Fox Fiction Contest going on now! We are also looking for poetry submissions! Send us your best work!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tips for Finishing Your Novel

Song of the Day: Sleigh Ride by the Carpenters 

    Hello all! Just a reminder, I'm giving away a book each to two of my followers. All you have to do is leave a comment on any blog post this week and you must also be a follower. The last day to post a comment is tomorrow! I'll randomly select two people to receive a book of their choice.
    Yesterday I received an email from Writer's Digest with the top writing articles of 2010. Two of them caught my attention. I'll blog about the other one tomorrow or next week, but today I want to talk about the one titled, Finish Your Novel in 4 Simple Steps. I'm really trying to light the fire under my butt about editing my novel. Since I've never edited such a large manuscript, I'm looking for any advice I can get my hands on. I thought I'd share since so many people are in the same boat. The following Four steps are from the article, Finish Your Novel in 4 Simple Steps by Lin Enger.

1. "Write the whole first draft first- and fast."

     Okay, I have this part covered! I wrote my novel in thirty days. You know what this rule directly translates to? National Novel Writing Month. The article states that you should just get the words on the page and not worry about editing. That's essentially the philosophy of NanoWriMo.

2. "Evaluate the Dramatic Function of Every Scene or Unit of Action."

     Here's where the real fun begins. Enger states that readers can tell if a scene does nothing for a story. The best way to start revising is to look at the opening of each chapter and scene and ask yourself the question: “What exactly happens here, and how does it surprise my character or offer some new perception to the reader?” If a scene doesn't move the story along, then cut it.

3. "Identify lulls in action where you can insert mini scenes."

     I love the way Enger says that "summaries then--long passages of exposition--are a necessary evil." She says that the best way to break up summaries that may be necessary for the story is to use some dialogue or "clips of movement." I know this to be very true. I've been told this same thing in a few of my workshops. Readers like white space. If you're not careful too much exposition can lead to boredom for a reader, which can potentially result in them losing interest in your story. And we definitely don't want that.

4. "Vary your methods of beginning chapters."

     The most important sentence under this subtitle is, "As you revise, be strategic with your chapter openings." Enger offers several examples on how you can vary your chapter beginnings. One way is to "position a character in time and instantly establish the dramatic situation." A second way is to "sketch out a period of time, rendering its mood and general character as a way to place coming events into context." This is most advantageous when a character needs to reflect on something. Third, Enger suggests "shaking things up." This is when you would throw a curve ball at your reader. Last, open a chapter by "offering some pithy observation that bears directly upon the events unfolding." Enger has some excellent examples of each suggestion in the original article. To make things clearer, I recommend reading her article. I'm printing it out and using it while I edit.

   I'm officially excited to start my edits. After reading Enger's tips, I feel like I now have some direction. It's not so scary. I hope the same is true for you. Are there any tips that you can suggest for completing a novel?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2011 Goals and Book Giveaway

Song of the Day: White Christmas by Bing Crosby

     Hello all! First, don't forget I'm giving away two books to two of my followers. All you have to do is be a follower of my blog, and leave a comment any day this week. I will randomly select two followers who will be able to win a paperback book of their choice! You have until Friday to leave your comment.

   I feel like 2010 was the year that I finally started taking my writing seriously. I've been a writer since I was six years old. I would sit at the dinner table in my uncle's New York City apartment and write stories, then publish them myself. Publishing them involved drawing a picture on construction paper that went along with the story, and then tying that piece of paper along with the pages of the story together with yarn. I've always had a passion for writing, but I think I finally realize that it's going to take some blood, sweat, and maybe even tears (though I'm not much of a crier). I now know that I must write everyday and I must read. And you know what that means? Often sacrificing things such as (Gasp!) TV. Now that I've had my wake-up call, here's a look at what I'm hoping to get done in 2011.

My 2011 Goals:

1. Read 75 Books
    This is going to be a challenge, but there are individuals who read over 100 books a year. I can surely
    read 75!

2. Finish Editing my NanoWriMo Novel and begin querying agents
    Now that I've finally finished a novel, I need to edit and make it "good." I also need to start the process of
    querying agents, and I have no idea how to do that. Guess I'll find out.

3. Blog at least 3 times a week
    I started out this year doing five, and realized it was just too much if I wanted to keep up with my
    writing goals. I think 3 times a week is a reasonable target.

4. Establish a following for the Black Fox Literary Magazine
    Black fox is the literary magazine I started with Pam Harris and Marquita Hockaday. We are looking to
    take it to a whole new level in 2011. We are in the process of building a new site where we'll start
    featuring poetry, flash fiction and author interviews. Stay tuned!

5. Create an Emergency Fund
    I'm 25 and sadly, I live paycheck to paycheck. I'm fortunate enough to have enough money, however if 
    something were to happen, I'd have no life line. I should probably be thinking about my financial future,
    so I'm going to create an emergency fund this year, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

6. Exercise at least 2-3 times a week
    The bare minimum is twice a week, but I'm shooting for three.

7. Write Everyday- even if it's just ten words
    I've said it a billion times, but National Novel Writing Month was an eye opener and quite frankly the best
    thing I've ever done. A lot can be accomplished in just ten minutes.

8. Make church and God a priority
    God has done so much for me, only fair that I repay him.

9. Work on my new Non-Fiction idea
    Yup, I have an idea for a non-fiction book. We'll see how it goes.

10. Publish Something, Anything
      If I just keep writing things and not submitting them, what's the point? I'm really going to make an effort
      to get my work out there to literary magazines and contests. My goal is to publish at least one short

11. Graduate with my MFA
      That's right folks, I'm scheduled to graduate, that is if my thesis/presentation goes well. Cross your
      fingers and pray for me.

12. Accepted to a Ph.D. program
      And this will be the final stop on my education journey. It's been a goal of mine since I was ten. It
      sounds crazy, but it's so true. Yeah, I was a nerd. Heck, I'm still a nerd, and I'm proud of it too!

      I have a few other goals I won't post. (Got to have some privacy, right?) What about you? What are some of your goals for the New Year?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World

Song of the Day: It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas by Johnny Mathis

    Hello all! I'm really into the Christmas spirit this year, and in honor of that I've decided that I'm going to give away Christmas presents in the form of Books to two of my followers! Read on to find out how you can win! I'll also be featuring Christmas Music on the blog until Christmas!


1. The 2011 Breakthrough Novel Award along with Penguin Group and Create Space announces the fourth annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The contest is open to general fiction and young adult fiction. There will be one winner for fiction and one winner for YA. Each winner receives a contract with Penguin and a $15,000 advance! (Wowzer!) Your novel must be unpublished or previously self-published. The contest will start accepting submissions on January 20, 2011 until February 6, 2011. For more information on how to enter, please visit the link below.

2. Racquel Writes Book Giveaway

    In the spirit of Christmas, I will give away a book to two of my followers. All you have to do is leave a comment on any one of my blog posts this week. You MUST also be a follower of my blog. I will randomly select two people to win a book of their choice, as long as the book is in paperback (hey, I'm not made of money!). Everyone will have until Friday December 17, 2010 to be eligible.


1. San Francisco Writer's Conference 

     The conference is scheduled for February 18, 2011- February 20, 2011. Attendees will be able to choose from a full schedule of workshops, panels, and sessions that fit their personal writing needs. There is an "Ask a Pro" session where writers can ask questions and pitch books to New York and California editors. This session is included in the cost of registration. Attendees will also have the option of purchasing a special Speed Dating for Agents Session for an additional $50. Here writers can pitch book ideas one-on-one to New york and California Agents. The conference will have pitch contests, open mic readings, a Gala Welcome Party, and "over-the-top networking." They also feature an Indie Publishing Contest offering writers a chance to win a publishing package. AND attendees can receive free feedback on their work from freelance book editors! The cost of the conference is $595. It's a little pricey, but it seems to be worth it. They also offer scholarships to a select few. For more information visit their website. 

Don't forget about the Black Fox Fiction Contest going on now! We are in the process of building a new site and will be featuring new poetry and flash fiction on a weekly basis. Stay tuned for details! Good Luck and Happy Writing!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

All I want for Christmas are....BOOKS!

Song of the Day: All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey 

   Hello all! I'm supposed to be blogging about literary magazines today, but I don't feel like it! AND I like to break the rules! (Hehe) I thought I'd blog about books today since I'm obsessed with them. I've recently been giving a lot of thought to doing the 2011 Debut Author Challenge. I was inspired to pursue this by my two buddies Pam and Marquita. The challenge is hosted by The Story Siren and involves reading 12 YA or middle grade novels, then posting reviews about them. Reviews have to be posted publicly (blog, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, etc.).  For more information click the green link above. I have a list of books that I've selected, and let me just say that it was one extensive list that I had to choose from! I'm not a YA writer, so I know very little about the subject. However, I thought it was a good idea to stay current since it's such a hot genre. I read Crank by Ellen Hopkins over the summer, and I LOVED it!
    I've also decided that I'm going to read at least 75 books next year as part of my New Year's Resolution (Look out for the rest of my resolutions next Tues!). Goodreads has also released a list of 508 best books of 2010. Since I didn't read a single book on the list, I've gone through and picked out the ones I will read next year. I've also added some books I'm dying to read that have been sitting on my shelf. Here are my lists!

2011 Debut Author Challenge:

1. The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson
2. Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley
3. Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
4. What Can't Wait by Ashley Perez
5. Illegal by Bettina Restrepo
6. Like Mandarin by Kristin Hubbard
7. Desperate Measures by Laura Summers
8. Falling for Hamlet by MIchelle Ray
9. Bestest Ramadan Ever by Medeia Sharif
10. Broken Wings by Helen Landalf
11. Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
12. Mercy Lily by Lisa Albert

And my list from Goodreads:

1. The Kitchen House by Katherine Grissom
2. Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
3. The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow
4. Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
5. Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
6. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (when it's released in paperback)
7. Fallout by Ellen Hopkins (again, waiting for paperback)
8. Unfinished Desires by Gail Godwin
9. Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
10. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
11. The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
12. Come Back to Me by Sara Foster
13. The Hoarders by Jean Stringer
14. Girl on a Bridge by Suzanne Fischkorn
15. Solomon's Oak by Jo-Ann Mapson
16. The Perfect World by Suzanne Bugler
17. Freefall by Mindi Scott

And Books on my Shelf:

1. The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
2. A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
3. Glass by Ellen Hopkins
4. Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo by Ntozake Shange
5. Caucasia by Danzy Senna
6. The Street by Ann Petry

And that just scratches the surface. I have stacks of books filling up my living room. I think I may have a problem. It's going to be one busy year! What about you? What books will you be reading in 2011?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Plot Thickens

Song of the Day: Let it Flow by Toni Braxton

   Hello all! I recently came across an article featured on the Writer's Digest website called, "10 Minute Fixes to 10 Common Plot Problems." I thought this was a really helpful article since so many people will be revising their NanoWriMo manuscripts. I've pretty much experienced all these problems, so I've added my comments along the way. Please note, the List of ten plot problems and their solutions were taken from the article "10 Minute Fixes to 10 Common Plot Problems" by Elizabeth Sims. You can click on the title to be taken to the original article.

1. "I'm Missing a Crucial Piece of Information."
    "Ten Minute Solution: If you can't find the exact data you need, get as close as you can and wing the rest."
      This happened in my NanoWriMo manuscript. I had to research an illness, but it was slowing me down. I decided to get a few facts then "wing the rest." It's okay to make things up. We're all writing fiction, the point is to just be convincing.

2. "My Action in this Scene Drags"
    "Ten Minute Solution: Resist the urge to pile it on; rather, tighten what you've got."
     The article suggests turning full length sentences into fragments and going for one-line paragraphs. I've definitely felt my scenes dragging, but I've never tried this approach. I think I'll try it once I begin editing.

3. "One of My Characters is Starting to seem Lackluster." 
    "Ten Minute Solution: Give her an Obsession."
     Several of my characters seemed to be doing this in my Nano Manuscript. But why didn't I think of giving them an obsession? I've done it in other manuscripts, but the thought didn't cross my mind for my novel.

4. "I Have to Communicate A lot of Information and it's Overkill."
    "Ten Minute Solution: Turn Narrative into Dialogue."
     I sometimes wonder if there's such a thing as "too much" dialogue. I feel like there's a lot of dialogue in my manuscript and not enough narration. I may have to focus on the opposite for this solution.

5. "I Don't Know What Should Come Next."
    "Ten Minute Solution: Have a ten minute brainstorm."
     What writer hasn't been here? Here is what Sims suggests:

"Flip to a fresh page in your notebook or computer notepad, check the time and give yourself 10 minutes to write down anything and everything that might come next. Record every idea that comes to you, even if it seems ridiculous or awful. Keep going. If you do this with a feeling of open exploration, you will come up with a good idea of what should come next."

     I'll definitely be doing this in the coming months to fill in any holes.

6. "I've Got a Complex Plot, and All of My Final Unraveling Feels Forced."
    "Ten Minute Solution: Choose some loose ends to leave loose."
    This solution makes sense, though I've never really thought about it that way. I'm always trying to have everything make sense to a character. In life, sometimes things don't make sense, so I guess that's okay for a character too.

7. "I Need a Bridge Between Two Scenes but I'm at a Loss."
    "Ten Minute Solution: Insert a chapter break or use a magic word."
     I've done this one as well. Sometimes I'll even just use a page break.

8. "My Ending Made My Critique Group Go 'SoWhat?'"
    "Ten Minute Solution: Add passion, violence, or both."
     I had to laugh out loud when I read this one. I would be a rich woman if I had a nickel for every time my critique group went "so what?" Not to mention all the times teachers have written it on my paper. Sims suggests "heightening the ending you've already got with passion or violence." According to Sims for romance writers, passion is the way to go. For mystery/thriller, or literary fiction writers violence might be the best bet because it has a tendency to satisfy the reader.

9. "My Agent/Editor Wants Me to Cut 10,000 Words!"
    "Ten Minute Solution: Micro-edit your way to success."
    Okay, I haven't been here, but I wish I had. I'd love to have an agent who wanted me to cut 10,000 words. Sims suggests cutting one word from each sentence instead of going through the entire manuscript cutting chunks. An excellent tip for my own future reference.

10. "The Whole Thing Stinks"
      "Ten Minute Solution: Take a Break"
       If you asked my two writing buddies and sisters Pam and Marquita, they would tell you that I've said this many times. Actually, I've said this about my Nano manuscript when it was just chapter one, and now here I am fifteen chapters later. Sometimes it takes you walking a way for a minute to realize that your work isn't complete crap, or even a compliment from another writer (as was the case for me). Something Nano taught me was that you can go back and revise. So what if it is crap the first time around. Nothing you write down is set in stone. That's why there's a "delete" button.

     And there it is, ten solutions to ten plot problems. I know I'll be using these during edits. What about you? Are you going to use any of these solutions? What common plot problems do you most identify with?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World

Song of the Day: Firework by Katy Perry

   Hello all! I'm back to the regularly scheduled program on the blog now that the hype over National Novel Writing Month is gone. I must admit, I miss they daily hustle of trying to get my word count in. I'm still writing, just not that intensely. Anyway, I've tracked down some opportunities. Take a look.


1. Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition

    This is more of a reminder. I've listed this competition before. The deadline has been extended until December 8, 2010. Don't panic though, it's only for short short stories. Stories can only be 1,500 words or fewer. If you completed National Novel Writing Month then this should be pie. Just make sure you edit! First place wins $3,000 and a trip to New York City for The Writer's Digest Conference and publication. There will also be prizes awarded to second through twenty fifth place. The entry fee is $20. See the website for official details.

 2. Black Caucus of the American Library Association

   Three prizes are given annually to a book of nonfiction, a book of fiction, and a novel written by an African American Author and published in the United States in the current year. Publishers must nominate the book and the deadline is December 17, 2010. There is no entry fee.

3. Meridian Editors' Prize

   One poem and one short story will receive a prize of $1,000 and publication in the Spring/Summer issue of Meridian. The entry fee is $16 and with that fee contestants will receive a subscription to Meridian. Entries must be submitted by December 17, 2010. See their website for official rules.


1. Writer's Digest Conference

    The conference will run from January 21-23, 2011 in New York City. Some topics that will be covered include, "Perfecting Your Pitch at the Pitch Slam," "Getting Published in the Digital Age," and "Platforms and Social Media." Workshops include, "Your Publishing Options," and "Ask the Agents Panel." If you register early you can receive the early bird rate which is $425 for the whole conference. For more information visit the link below.

Also, don't forget about the contest going on at the literary magazine I co-founded with Pam Harris and Marquita Hockaday. Visit The Black Fox Literary Magazine for Details.

Good Luck Folks and Happy Writing!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

National Novel Writing Month Recap

Song of the Day: Sweet Victory by David Glen Eisley

Hello All! It's December first and I think it's safe to say that I'm officially back and a proud winner of National Novel Writing Month. It was a long, bumpy journey, but I stand before you today, a novelist! But the month didn't always go my way and here's why:

1. I had no intention of deserting the Blog World- I had this great plan when I started NanoWriMo. I was going to have blogs ahead of time for at least the first half of the month. Then I was going to write the other ones over the weekend, since it wouldn't be so hectic. That was an EPIC FAIL as the saying goes. A few things had to give so that I could keep writing, and unfortunately blogging had to be one of them. (What I gave up list at the end of post).

2. I didn't plan on my flash drive breaking- So there I am on my couch writing with my laptop on my lap. I pick it up to move positions, and what do you know? It slips right out of my hands, hitting the coffe table before it crashes to the floor. So then I take the flash drive out to see if it's okay. When I plug it back in, NOTHING! That's when panic mode set in, which brings me to Number 3.

3. I hadn't planned on feeling demoralized- After the Flash Drive Fiasco, I didn't feel like writing. I moped around for about three days without writing a thing. You know what turned it around for me? TWITTER! Go figure. I kept reading other writer's tweets about their word count success. God must have been looking out for me because two days before my flash drive broke, I emailed my manuscript to myself. So, the whole thing was not lost. I opened up my laptop and just began writing, telling myself that I would go back and re-write the missing section later.

4. I forgot how many events I had in November- There was my birthday (which is also my mother's birthday), my friend's wedding, Thanksgiving, Black Friday plus various smaller things that I forgot about until they came up!

Here's a List of What I sacrificed for NanoWriMo

1. My eyebrows (they look rough)
2. Exercise
3. Blogging
4. Facebook
5. Socializing (far less than I was used to)
6. Reading (Gasp!)

Was it all worth it? YES! I have written my first novel. NanoWriMo has encouraged me to get off my bum and just write. I used to keep making excuses about why I wasn't ready to write a novel, but now I have one. The editing I have to do is going to be crazy, but I have a feeling that that's going to be worth it too! I've also learned how much I'm capable of writing in a short amount of time. I should be writing every day, no matter what. This experience has been everything I'd hoped for and more. Congratulations to my fellow Nano Winners. We did it!

Also don't forget about The Black Fox Literary Magazine's Fiction Contest going on now!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What I've Learned from National Novel Writing Month- Day 10

Song of the Day: Hollywood by Michael Buble

      Hello all! It's only day 10, and already I've learned so much from National Novel Writing Month. I've compiled a list of what the experience has taught me, and what I really should have known all along.

1. You Have to Make Time to Write

   This has been preached to me by every writer I know, and in every article, blog post, or book about writing that I've ever read. Why did it take NanoWriMo for me to see the light? I would make excuses about not having enough time to write, which was a lie. I was doing what writers do best, procrastinating. The fact is that you can write a good amount of words in 10-15 minutes. I've learned this because I use every spare chance I can get to reach my word count goal for the day. I usually arrive early to work, and this morning I wrote 200 words in 15 min while I was waiting in the car.

2. Keep Writing

   It's okay, if you don't have a direction for your novel (or even short story). Keep Going. Just write something down on paper. You can go back and edit later. Before NanoWriMo, I would sit and stare at the screen of my computer for hours because I was stuck. That would usually result in me just closing my laptop and vowing to work on whatever it was later. Then I wouldn't go back to it because I still had no idea where it was going. That got me nowhere. Make something up and keep going. That's the beauty of fiction.

3. I should be Writing Like this Everyday

   Honestly, 1000-1500 words a day, is not that hard to accomplish. I once read a book by Carolyn See called, Making a Literary Life. I was still an undergraduate in college and just figuring out that I wanted to make a career out of writing. See advised that anyone who wanted to become a serious writer should write at least 1,000 words a day. I remember thinking at the time that a 1000 words was ridiculous. That number seemed so big to me. Now, I don't quite see it that way. Writing 1,000 words a day is necessary and completely within reach.

   It took National Novel Writing Month to really open my eyes (sad but true). And Thank God for it. Now to make up for all the time I've been wasting. At least I figured it out while I'm still in my twenties!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World- Miami Book Fair

Song of the Day: Lightyears by Kylie Minogue

   Hello all! Well today is day 8 of National Novel Writing Month! I'm just a slight bit behind (not too much) but I do plan to catch up today. I've noticed that it's harder to write on the weekend because I'm surrounded by my family, and there aren't even any small children involved! I didn't think it was possible, but man are they a distraction! Don't get me wrong, I love them to death, but it's incredibly hard to focus. I do much better during the week. It's not as if I'm in complete solitude during the week (as my sister often spends most evenings at my place watching TV), but she's usually working on her own projects too, so it works out. Anyway, since I do need to get back to my writing, this post will be rather short. I really just had to tell you about the Miami Book Fair for those of you in Florida (Or those of you willing to travel here with such short notice).

The Miami Book Fair

     There will be so many famous authors here that it's unreal! The list includes authors such as Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson, Carl Hiassen, Ann Beattie, Susan Cheever, Carol Higgins Clark, Edwidge Danticat, Jennifer Egan, Dave Eggers, Laura Esquivel, Jonathan Franzen, Ian Frazier, James O'neal, Katherine Schwarzenegger, Scott Turow, Jonathan Tropper, Scott Westerfeld, Dani Shapiro, Walter Mosley, Jane Leavy, Caroline Leavitt, Larry Doyle, T Cooper, and George W. Bush. Wait, George W. Bush? No comment. Anyway, this my list just scratches the surface. The official list is quite extensive.

       The fair takes place from November 14-21. The Street Fair takes place during the 19-21 and will feature booksellers and exhibitors, offering the opportunity to browse new and favorite titles from major publishing houses, small presses, scholarly imprints and foreign publishers. There will be millions of books in multiple languages, book signings and musical entertainment. Many authors will be giving talks on various subjects. Tickets for the Street Fair are free and Tickets for the 2010 Evenings with Series Author presentations are $10. Visit the website for more information.

   I also want to add that I'm going to be in Miami this weekend, and thought the fair was going to be this weekend. I was horrified (yes, it's that serious) to discover that it's actually next weekend. I doubt I'll be able to make it to Miami 2 weekends in a row, but I guess we'll see what happens. If you're lucky enough to go, have fun! And don't forget about The Black Fox Literary Magazine's Fiction Contest and Cover Art Contest going on now!

Oh, and often doesn't have the "song of the day" that I want to use. If that happens I'm just going to provide a link below the song where you can listen to it. Does Anyone have a better website with the same concept?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NanoWriMo- Updates and Comments to the Bashers

Song of the Day: King of Anything by Sara Bareilles

   Hello all! As you know, I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month this year! I can't believe it but I've been meeting the word goals every day, and I've written nearly 6,000 words so far! I had already started my novel before National Novel Writing Month as part of my final creative thesis for my MFA program. I didn't want to be a cheater so I came up with another idea for a novel. Then I read Nathan Bransford's blog advising writers to actually write on an idea that they were passionate about. Though I liked my new idea, I wasn't passionate about it because my first novel was never finished. That's when I spoke to my two best writing buddies, Pam and Marquita. They said, "Why don't you just add 50,000 words to the words you already have. That way it's not cheating." What a brilliant idea. Why didn't I think of that? I know, what would I do without them?
    So here I am having written close to 6,000 words over the space of 3 days (Today is day 4, but I'm only at about 100 words due to the fact that I am at my day job). That makes about 10,000 words total for my manuscript! It's the most words I've ever had on a manuscript ever! It's safe to say that I LOVE NANWRIMO! This brings me to my next point.
     I've come across several articles and blogs bashing NanoWriMo. If you are bashing the event and the organization, then essentially you are bashing its participants. I know that the method doesn't work for everyone, and it's okay to say that, but when you're putting writers and their efforts down, that's just not right. I think all participants realize that major editing will have to be done after the month of November. I honestly don't think anyone thinks they are going to type word number 50,000 then send it to an Agent and instantly get a book deal. While it may be possible (hey we can dream can't we?), I don't think anyone's expectations are so high. Why would you put down something that has people motivated to get their words on the page?
     I'm one of those writers who self edits as I go. I end up so frustrated that I just stop writing. This project has encouraged me to keep going. I keep it in the back of mind, that I can go back and change the wording later. There's nothing wrong with that. So to you NanoWriMo haters I say, "Talk to the hand!"
     Good luck to all my fellow Nanoers! Keep writing!

P.S. I know I already used this song, but it's so PERFECT for today's post!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Proper E-mail Etiquette

Song of the Day: Can't Take It by All American Rejects

    Hello All! As writers we are probably sending emails all the time. I'm sure we all send at least one email a day, whether we're querying an agent, sending an email for our "day job," or just sending an email to a friend. Yesterday I received a couple emails at the "day job" that I thought were very rude, so I thought this would be the perfect time to blog about proper e-mail etiquette (I usually do "Literary Magazine Limelight" but I was so fired up yesterday, that my voice needs to be heard today on this subject matter). Here are the basics for for constructing a business email.

1. Address the Recipient in the Email

     That means, "Dear Mr., Ms., Dr., etc. You can also change that to a company name or address a group as a whole. You should also end with a proper signature. For example:

Racquel Henry, Editor
The Black Fox Literary Review
1122 Black Fox Blvd.
Fox, FL. 33221
Phone: (123) 456-7891

2. Content

    Slang, nudity, sarcasm, jokes, degradation of an individual or group, and profanity are all things that should not be in a business email. Content should also be short and to the point. Stick to the facts.

3. Subject

    Always put an appropriate title in the subject line, so the recipient can identify exactly what the email is about.

4. Grammar

   You should always use the spell check then proof read your emails for grammatical errors, or anything the spell check wouldn't be able to pick up on.

5. Tone

    Be very careful with this one. You know how we read a piece of writing and often try to identify the tone? Same thing here. People will be able to tell if you're being sarcastic, if you're upset, if you're frustrated, etc. I was able to tell that the emails I received were just plain rude. Oh, and don't use all caps, because it implies that you're yelling. Select your words carefully.

    Email is by far one of the fastest ways to communicate. Almost all of us use them in our professional lives. It's easy to fall into the habit of treating them casually. However, when we use emails as a business tool, then we have to treat them accordingly. In any business setting, you must maintain a professional standard, regardless of your position.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World

Song of the Day: Fast Car by Tracy Chapman

   Hello all! I got a chance to attend the Florida Writers Conference this weekend and it was GREAT! There's something to be said about being around "My People!" I met so many wonderful writers, and in the coming weeks I'll be posting what I learned in the workshops. In the meantime, here's another round of opportunities. And please forgive me, but I only have a short list of contests today. I've got a million things going on this week and I'm sick! You understand right?


1. Lucid Hills Spring Short Story Contest:

   They are looking for short shorts, short stories, essays, memoirs, photo essays, graphic stories, all forms of literary non-fiction, and excerpts from longer works of both fiction and non-fiction. Entries must be previously published and should be no longer than 15,000 words. First prize will win $500, second prize will win $200, and third prize will win $100. Ten finalists will also be chosen and awarded $25 each. The entry fee is $15 and the contest deadline is December 31, 2010. Visit the website for official rules.

2. James Knudsen's Editor's Prize

    Submissions must be original and previously unpublished works of fiction that total no more than 7500 words. One winner will receive $500 and publication in Bayou Magazine (The literary magazine at The University of New Orleans). Entry fee is $15 and the contest closes on December 31, 2010. See the website below for guidelines.

3. Nightboat Poetry Prize

    Nightboat books is looking for submissions of for the 2010 Nightboat Poetry Prize. The winning poet will receive $1,000, a standard royalty contract, and 25 free copies of the published book. Finalists will be considered for future publication. Please submit only unpublished, original work. Entry fee is $25 and the contest closes on November 15, 2010.

Don't forget about the Black Fox Literary Magazine's fiction contest going on now! I'll probably remind you about this until the deadline (Hey, I have to look out for my own!). Good luck and Happy Writing!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gearing Up for National Novel Writing Month- How You Should Prepare

Song of the Day: Watch Me Shine by Joanna Pacitti

   Hello all! I apologize to those of you who actually listen to the song of the day. I couldn't find the full version of the song. I didn't want to change the song because it's perfect for today and I always try and match the song to the mood of the post. If you still have a burning desire to listen to the whole thing (and I recommend it, because it's AMAZING) then check out the youtube link. 
    I've been reading some very helpful advice about preparing for National Novel Writing Month and thought I'd share them on this post. I came across an article on written by guest blogger Michelle Devon. Some of the points are silly, but I still found the majority of them helpful. Here are her tips:

1. Buy Lots of Coffee

    I actually don't drink coffee, but I have the feeling I might start during November. I wonder if this will actually work for me. I don't really function well due to lack of sleep. We shall see.

2. Buy a Shower Cap

    Devon says that you will need a shower cap to keep you from pulling out your hair. I must admit this scares me. Is it really that bad?

3. Lock up All Fire Arms

    According to Devon, this is in case you want to shoot your computer screen at 5am after no sleep and "a character decides to take the storyline in a whole new direction."

4. Buy Headphones

    You will need to drown out noisy people in your house, the coffee shops, etc.

5. At 11:59 pm on October 31- Promptly disregard and temporarily forget anything and everything 
    you have ever been taught about writing.

   This is the one piece of advice that I hear over and over. Writers are advised to "just write" and keep in mind that they are just supposed to produce a draft of their novel. Can I just say that I'm looking forward to this one? I know. That's probably easier said than done.

6. Learn How Not to Edit
   Again, easier said than done. Especially for the perfectionists out there.

All Fun and games aside, there are some things that I've read repeated by writers who have participated in the past. Here's what sticks out in my memory most.

1. Outline Your Novel

    An outline will give you a general direction of where your novel is going. After all the years I've been writing, I've never really tried outlining. I think I'm going to give it a whirl, instead of trying to proceed blindly into a novel. I'm hoping this will also ease up some of the writer's block. You should probably also get to know your characters, but I think that might go hand in hand with your outline.

2. Develop a Word Count Schedule

    You have to write at least 50,000 words right? That's roughly 12,500 words a week, or 1,667 words a day. Each writer is different. How long will it take you to write that daily? Make sure you set aside that amount of time each day to write. I predict that that many words will take me somewhere between 1-2 hours to write. So plan ahead.

3. Try Not to Schedule too Many Things in November

    Don't make plans, unless it's absolutely necessary. I read somewhere that you should even freeze food ahead of time! I don't know about that one. However, I would suggest trying to plan your life around your writing time, instead of the other way around. For example, I know that I won't have time to blog as much. I'm going to have a few posts written out ahead of time, that way I'm not completely gone for the entire month (Besides, I would miss you guys too much!).

So there you have it! Are you ready?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World

Song of the Day: It's My Life by Bon Jovi

  Hello all! SO....60 followers! Woo Hoo! 40 more until there's a celebration! Hope everyone had a good weekend, I know I did! I got to see my favorite NBA team, the Orlando Magic practice at the new Amway Center. I also have a serious crush on Dwight Howard, so it was a bonus watching him play ;) But enough about that, you're probably here for the opportunities. Check out what's going on this week.


1. The Narrative Magazine 30 and Below Contest

    The contest is open to writers between the ages of 18-30 years old. They are looking for, Works of fiction and nonfiction, including short stories, novel excerpts, essays, memoirs, excerpts from book-length nonfiction, Graphic novel excerpts and comics of no more than thirty pages, Photo essays of between five and twenty images (previously unpublished), original works of fiction and nonfiction in audio theater (including performance, radio journalism, and stories read aloud), and Short films and documentaries of up to fifteen minutes. The entry fee is $20 (and with your entry you'll receive 3 months of complimentary access to Narrative Backstage) and the contest Deadline is October 29, 2010. First Prize is $1,500, Second Prize is $750, Third Prize is $300, and ten finalists will receive $100 each. The prize winners and finalists will be announced in Narrative. All N30B entries are eligible for the $5,000 Narrative Prize for 2011 and for acceptance as a Story of the Week. For official rules and guidelines see the link below.

2. Glimmer Train Press- Family Matters Category

    Glimmer Train Press seeks original, unpublished short stories about families. The category is open to all writers. The contest entry fee is $15 and the deadline is October 31, 2010. Prizes are as follows: 1st place wins $1,200, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of that issue. Second place: $500. Third place: $300. For more information click the link below.

1Bloggers Needed
We're an internet media company, and we're looking for bloggers. In short, we want to pay people on a post-to-post basis to write for one or more of our media properties. Each blog post will likely require some research, and will average between 500 and 750 words. Blog posts are expected to be written in correct English, with no spelling or grammar mistakes. We currently need blogs written within the following niches: apparel and fashion, automotive, kitchen, musical Instruments.

2. Engineer Bloggers Needed

    I am in need of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering oriented bloggers, preferably with past experience at Engineering/Technical blogs/websites.

3. Health and Wellness Blogger

    Startup company looking for a health and wellness oriented writer/blogger. You must live and breathe the stuff and be able to show a history of independent and opinionated writing that is both easy and interesting to read.

Just a few more things. Be careful when applying to jobs online and don't forget about The Black Fox Fiction Contest! Good Luck and Happy Writing!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Literary Magazine Limelight-Our Stories Literary Journal

Song of the Day: One Step At a Time by Jordin Sparks

  Hello all! You all know the deal. It's Thursday, so it's time for another Literary Magazine in the Limelight. Take a look.

What: An online Literary Journal "committed to publishing the best fiction on the web. In each publication, you’ll find new stories, a letter from the editor and an author interview in our Interview with a Master Series." The best part of this magazine is that they give feedback on your writing. They will tell you about their impressions, what you can do to fix your work, etc. AND it costs NOTHING to submit! They also have contests and you can pay for their writing workshops (you basically choose one of their one-on-one workshops and you also have the choice of a staff member).

Where: On-line. You can read stories published by the magazine online and find their submission guidelines.

When: Contest submission times are held during summer, fall and winter. See the website for official submission dates.

Why: Besides the fact that the magazine publishes quality fiction, the feedback on your writing is worth submitting alone. That way, writers are able to recognize what went wrong.

For more information go to:

Don't forget about the Black Fox Literary Magazine Fiction Contest. Good Luck and Happy Writing!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Faking It to Make It: The Power of Positive Thinking

Song of the Day: King of Anything by Sara Bareilles

     Hello all! It's no secret that I follow Writer's Digest Blogger Jane Friedman. Her Post yesterday was titled, "Fake It 'Til You Make It." It's a really interesting topic and I just thought I'd dedicate my post today to my own thoughts on the subject. There were two points I found interesting. First, Friedman makes the point that "Interviews with successful authors never get old," but she wonders if these interviews can have a damaging effect because many writers read them in "aspirational mode." To an extent I do believe Friedman is right. For many writers reading interviews with authors can leave them wishing that they were in the shoes of the given author. For me, I sometimes wish those things, but I think that I lean more towards the side of reading interviews for motivational purposes. Whenever I read about or see the success of other writers, it motivates me to be better. It makes me think, "What have you written today?" I sometimes even envision myself in the shoes of the author. Instead of whatever author is being interviewed, it's me, with my book, doing my interview with the Paris Review. This brings me to Ms. Friedman's next point.
     She says, "If we want to be different, we have to first (at least) believe OR pretend that we are, until we make it. We have to emulate or do all those things that we believe or think someone would do if they weren't faking it. And, one day, we're no longer faking it." I believe this to my core. This sounds crazy, but this is what I've been doing for the past month or so (seriously), and nothing but good things have come my way. And I'm talking about career things. Suzanne Vaira Workman writes this thought on Friedman's Facebook page:

"It's a neuro-plasticity thing. The more brain cells and motor function dedicated to a manifestation, the greater the subconscious and conscious acquisition of accompanying data, stimulating more dendrite growth connecting those brain cells and logarithmically multiplying that knowledge/understanding (much like compound interest hyperbola), making real what began as only desire."

    This goes hand in hand with the Secret. For those of you who don't know what the Secret is, it's the theory that "thoughts become things." It's based on the law of attraction. You attract everything, both positive and negative into your life (whether you intend it or not). If you know me, you know that I am always preaching about the secret. If you surround yourself with only the negative, and think negative thoughts, then that's what you are going to get back. Thus, if you fake it and pretend you are the best writer on the planet, then ultimately that is exactly what you will be. I've also been listening to the song I have listed for the song of the day. If I start doubting myself as a writer, I turn it on sing along with Sara Bareilles, "Who cares if you disagree, you are not me, who made you king of anything?" :)

What do you think? How do you feel about Author Interviews? Are you faking it until you make it?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World

Song of the Day: Hit Me with Your Best Shot by Pat Benatar

Hello All! Happy Monday (maybe?). Time for another round of opportunities! The first contest listed is AMAZING...the prize money for the winning story is...well...WOWZER! Check it out.


1. Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest

    Any original short story is eligible. They are looking for short stories, essays, of works of prose up to 5,000 words. Writers are allowed to submit work simultaneously to this contest or others, and can submit work that has been previously published or won prizes, as long as the author still has the online rights. The winning story will be awarded a cash prize of $3,000 (what did I tell you?....WOWZER!). Second place will be awarded $1,000, third place will be awarded $400, and the fourth place winner will be awarded $250. There will also be 6 "most highly commended" awards of $150 each.  The top 10 entries will be published on the Winning Writers website (over one million page views per year) and announced in Tom Howard Contest News and the Winning Writers Newsletter, a combined audience of over 30,000 readers. The contest has an entry fee of $15 and is open from July 15, 2010-March 31, 2011. Visit the link below for official details.

2. Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest

      This contest is the same as the one above, but for poetry. So, the prize money is the same! The only thing that's different is entry fee. It's $7 for every 25 lines of poetry submitted. Click the link below for official guidelines.


 1. 9th Annual Florida Writers Conference

    The Florida Writers Association presents its annual conference that will take place in Lake Mary, FL from October 22-October 24, 2010. I just found out about the contest, so I apologize for the short notice. The deadline to register online has passed, but writers wishing to attend can still sign up on-site. The cost for the entire conference is $329. You can also attend a specific day if you choose. The cost for Friday is, $150, Saturday costs $200, and Sunday costs $60 (Sunday is shorter than the other days). If you attend all three days the cost covers:  All workshops from Friday morning through Sunday morning, Friday Lunch, Dinner, Welcome Reception, Open Mic Night, Saturday Breakfast, Lunch, Awards Banquet, and Sunday Breakfast. See the website for details on what is covered on individual days. They also have available for purchase: Interviews with an Agent, Publisher, or Acquisition Editor, Mentoring Sessions, Pitch practice sessions, and manuscript critiques. The only catch is that you have to be a Florida Writers Association member to attend the conference. The cost of membership is only $45 for a year. I will be making my way to the conference, it appears that there will be some quality workshops!


1. Freelance Tech Blogger/Journalist- CMSWIRE.COM

   Looking for an intelligent and driven freelance blogger/journalist with 2+ years covering enterprise software, enterprise collaboration, information management and/or web content management topics. For details:

2. Person needed to write tech articles to be published in magazines (VA, MD & DC)

    Looking to hire a skilled freelance writer with very good knowledge in technology and some expertise in business. **This work can be done from home**

Details of the position:
You will be writing magazine articles that are targeted for audiences ranging from SMB to mid-sized companies i.e Construction companies, Law firms, Doctor's etc. The articles will cover different topics ranging from networking, security, data storage, virtualization, etc.) to the more mainstream such as mobile phone OS's, Internet browsers, social media, and consumer electronics products. For more info:

3. MagazineWriter/ Liberty Ink Journal/ Fort Collins, CO

   Magazine writers wanted for headline, features, special features, columns and entertainment departments for local, state, national and international sections to write news and commentary on today's political scene told from a foundation in libertarian, conservative and constitutional understanding. Pay ranges from $45.00-$350.00 per article depending on the type of article written not by the word, and depending on the writer's experience. For details:

Also, don't forget about the fiction contest over at The Black Fox Literary Magazine. As always, Good Luck and Happy Writing!

P.S. I've noticed that I have 55 Followers! Woot Woot! I just want to thank everyone for your support. When I get to 100, there's going to be a CELEBRATION! ;)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Literary Magazine Limelight- The Black Fox Literary Magazine

Song of the Day: Bad by Michael Jackson

   Hello All! It's Thursday, so you know what that means? It's time to put another literary Magazine in the limelight! I've promoted a lot of literary magazines on my blog, and I will continue to do so, but as I said on Monday, this week, it's all about The Black Fox Literary Magazine. I recently started this magazine with my two WONDERFUL friends over Pam and Marquita over at Here's the 411.


The Black Fox Literary Magazine

The Black Fox Literary Magazine was founded by Racquel Henry, Pamela Harris, and Marquita Hockaday. The three writers met during an MFA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey.
The Black Fox Literary Magazine is an online quarterly publication featuring quality fiction from both established and new writers. We welcome all fiction, but we especially like fiction from under-represented genres and styles. Some examples of under represented genres we're looking for are, but not limited to: YA, Romance, Flash Fiction, Mystery, etc.


  Our Spring issue is published in March, the summer issue is published in June, the fall issue is published in September and the winter issue is published in December. We accept submissions on an ongoing basis, but do keep in mind that we do have cut off dates for each issue.
Spring Issue Submission Period: November-January
Summer Issue Submission Period: February-April
Fall Issue Submission Period: May-July
Winter Issue Submission Period: August-October


We are a new magazine, but we strive to provide our readers with srories that inspire, invoke emotion, and who knows? Maybe even change a few lives. Wouldn't you like your story to be a part of that?

So what are you waiting for? Submit your best fiction now! You know you want to!