Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World

Song of the Day: "Superwoman" by Alicia Keys

Hello All! I am very busy this week reading, and researching, and writing. There just seems to be so much to do! It's like I can't stop reading. Perhaps I'm trying to do too much? I've got a short list today, but it should keep you busy in the meantime.
1. Literal Latte Poetry Prize
    The award is for $1,000 and publication in Literal Latte Magazine. You can 
    submit up to six poems of no more than 2,000 words each. The entry fee is
    $10 and the deadline is July 15, 2010. They also have a short shorts fiction
    contest, but the deadline is tomorrow! Visit their website for official rules and


2. Gemini Magazine Flash Fiction Contest
    There will be a grand prize of $1,000 and the runner up will receive $100.
    They will also announce four honorable mentions. All six winners will be
    published in the October 2010 issue of Gemini Magazine. Both new and
    established writers are welcomed. Your work of fiction must be under
    1,000 words. The deadline for this contest is August 31, 2010. Click the
    link below for the official rules and guidelines.


   Flash Fiction is something that interests me, and I've actually written some flash fiction pieces. Last time I checked, there wasn't a whole lot of information about flash fiction out there. Check out my blog next week, where I will explore the fantastic world of flash fiction! I'm excited to see what I can find!

   Hope these contests will give you motivation! Happy Writing!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Romance on Fire

Songs of the Day: "Sucka for Love" by Danity Kane and in honor of Michael Jackson, "The Lady in My Life"

    I was reading the May/June issue of Writer's Digest (if you haven't guessed already this is my favorite magazine about writing) and I came across an article on why romance is hotter than ever. Throughout time romance writers have been considered to be "less serious writers." To be quite honest, that just isn't fair. There are published novels that are considered to be "literary fiction" but after reading them, I'd toss them aside because they just didn't do it for me. The same is true in romance. There's the good, and then there's the bad. I thought I'd share some highlights from the article. If you're currently a romance writer or you're trying to break into the business, this article The following facts are from the Writer's Digest article entitled, "Romancing the Publishing Industry."

The Facts
- According to Business of Consumer Book Publishers, 74.8 million people read at least one romance in
  2008 (and the figure has doubled in the past decade)
-Romance has been a top performing category on The New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers
-Romance fiction has created around 1.37 billion in revenue. If you want to put that up against some other
 genres, take a look at what some others have generated:
           Religion/Inspiration- $800 million
           Mystery- $668 million
           Science Fiction/Fantasy- $551 million
           Literary Fiction- $446 million
-The Washington Post, Time Magazine, and other sources reported that Harlequin (the largest publisher of romance) had steadily  growing profits in 2008 and 2009
-Nearly $7,500 romance novels were released each year.
-Writers such as, Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Debbie Macomber, Janet Evanovich, etc. provide solid  
  proof that the potential for crossover to mainstream appeal does indeed exist.

According to the article there are 5 characteristics that your romance novel should have.

What Your Romance Novel Should Have

1. "HEA"- Translation: "happily ever after." Romance stories should always have a happy ending.
2. "Morality Reflective of the Majority"- Basically the characters have to be in a monogamous
3. "Variety"- Contrary to popular belief, romance novels are not all the same. There are several 
     subgenres of romance which includes, romantic suspense, paranormal, erotica, inspirational, urban
     fantasy, contemporary, historical, and comedy, and thriller. That's a lot if you ask me.
4. "Sexual Tension"- This does not mean explicit sex. The misconception is that romance novels are filled
     with explicit content. Not true! There is no need for sex unless it reveals character or advances the plot.
5. "Character Growth"- This is true for all genres in my opinion. Nobody likes a flat character.

The article also states there are 10 things you can add to make you romance novel a success.

Spice Up Your Romance Novel
1. "A strong hook or concept"
2. "Sympathetic motivated characters"
3. "Evocative Setting"
4. "High-stakes conflict"
5. "Unique voice"
6. "Credible emotion"
7. "Tight pacing"
8. "Skillful layering" (with regard to plot, themes, characters, etc.)
9. "Reversals" (surprises and challenges)

Publishers Seeking Romance Writers:

1. Harlequin Enterprises
2. Random House
3. Penguin Group
4. HarperCollins
5. Kensington
6. Dorchester Publishing

There is obviously a world of opportunities out there for romance writers. These facts and statistics are impressive. Romance week comes to a close, and I'm a little sad. I hope I have helped those of you who are romance writers, and those of you who hope to break into the industry. For the curious ones, maybe this has pushed you in the right direction. I have really enjoyed exploring the romance genre, and hopefully you have too. See you next week!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Literary Magazine Limelight- Eclectica Magazine

Song of the Day: "25 Reasons" by Nivea

   Hello all! Onward we move with Romance Week! It appears that there is something terribly wrong with the romance world. I've discovered that there are no literary magazines specifically for romance! I couldn't believe this. I searched and searched, but to no avail. I came up short. It was even hard to find a magazine that actually stated it was accepting of all genres. I did manage to find one. Check it out.

Eclectica Magazine

   It's a quarterly "World, Wide Web" journal that showcases the best writing regardless of genre (and yes the site actually says that). So there is hope after all for you romance writers. And here's what I really like about them:

   "'Literary' and 'genre' work appear side-by-side in each issue, along with pieces that blur the distinctions between such categories. Pushcart Prize, National Poetry Series, and Pulitzer Prize winners, as well as Nebula Award nominees, have shared issues with previously unpublished authors."
    I like that they aren't snooty. Everyone's work can co-exist in their magazine. The do not offer pay, but they do guarantee that your work will never go out of print. They are interested in fiction, poetry, essays, creative nonfiction, drama, book and movie reviews, travel writing, interviews and humor/satire. Works which cross genres—or create new ones—are especially encouraged. (This includes prose poems, "heavy" opinion, works combining visual art and writing, electronic multimedia, hypertext/HTML, and types we have yet to imagine.)
    Anyone can submit, including, adults, teens, and even ex-convicts. They do ask that you please proof read your work before submitting to them (but that's a given).

Here is the link for official guidelines and information:


And to all you romance writers out there, please, somebody, anybody, start a literary magazine for your genre!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Opportunities in the Great Big ROMANTIC World

Song of the Day: "Until the End of Time" by Justin Timberlake

Hello All! Romance week continues with some opportunities I found. Take a look.

1. Romance Writers of America 30th Annual Conference
    The conference will be held in Orlando, FL on July 28-31. There will be more than 100 workshops, you have the chance to schedule a one-on-one pitch meeting with an acquiring editor or literary agent, and you will learn about publishing. PLUS you will have the chance to attend parties ant network with romance writers. Speakers include Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Sabrina Jeffries.    

Entry fees are as follows:

•RWA member early registration fee (until July 1): $425
•RWA member late registration fee: $475
•Nonmember early registration fee (until July 1): $500
•Nonmember late registration fee: $550

For more information visit the link below:

2. Writers' Journal Romance Contest
     The prizes aren't huge amounts of money, but hey, money is money. One first prize winner will receive $250.00. The second prize winner will receive $100.00, and the third prize winner will receive $50.00. They will also have honorable mentions. The first, second, and third place winners will be published in future issues of Writers' Journal. The reading fee is only $7.00 and the contest deadline is July 30, 2010. For the official rules and guidelines click the link below:


Also, Writer's Digest had a feature on websites for writers (don't worry, I'll be sharing those gradually) and here are the top three websites for romance writers:


Good luck and Happy Writing!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Romance Week- What I have Just Finished Reading

Song of the Day: "Love Like This" by Natasha Bedingfield

  Hi all! It's been a rough week. Here I had this lovely blog post to start the week off right, and I couldn't post it yesterday due to internet issues. It's extremely annoying when I cannot tap into the blogspot world daily. However, I am trying not to let it get me down. Today is a new day! Here is my post (that I wrote yesterday at 9:00 am! but who's dwelling on the past?).

   Has anyone noticed that love is in the air? So many of my friends have gotten engaged in the last month alone. In honor of summer love, and me being the hopeless romantic that I am, I've decided to dedicate an entire week to the genre of romance. I got the idea after I decided to give a romance novel a try last week. I am not a romance writer, but I do like an occasional romance story every now and then. Plus, I'm interested in exploring the genre. So all this week it's all about romance. On my quest for light reading this summer, I stumbled on a romance novel by Nora Roberts called, Savor the Moment. I have to say that I absolutely loved the story line. However, I am not a fan of Nora Robert's writing. There are probably many people that would completely disagree with me on this, but that's why there are a variety of ice cream flavors. We don't all like the same one. I completely respect Roberts. I mean she has written over 160 books and is a New York Times Best-selling Author. However, I didn't think her writing was particularly "good." I found so many things I would have been murdered for in my MFA program. Not that I always agree with my professors, but they do teach the basics, and her basics were not up to the level I had expected. I promise I am not a literary snob, I just expected more. There are a lot of people who love her, and that's great. She really can tell a story. And this novel is great if you are looking for a light romantic read. It's just that I probably won't be reading any more Nora Roberts novels. If you don't care about mechanics or you're just looking for a good story romantic story line, check it out.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Literary Magazine Limelight- 34th Parallel

Song of the Day: "You Gotta Be" by Des're

    Hi all! Literary Magazines can be a great way for authors to get published and really start to make a name for themselves. If you're a new writer (such as myself) and you are working on that first novel, and have never been published, you could submit your shorter works to Literary Magazines. Not only do you stand the possibility of seeing your name in print, but you could make a little money on the side. So why not? There are so many magazines out there, so it can be hard to even begin to think about where you should start. I've decided to help you with that! Every week I will feature a literary magazine on my blog to help you stay motivated. I will be doing the hard work, so now you'll have no more excuses! Take a look at this week's Magazine:

In the Limelight this week: 34th Parallel

   What I love about this magazine is that they think we (and by "we" I mean writers) rock! They are really committed to the typical, "This is only my day job," undiscovered writer (That's me!). Here is what the editors said on their site:

"We reckon there are more good writers who are undiscovered than soccer moms at Starbucks.

Where are all these talented people? One guess: You got it! They're at their day jobs!
So if you’re one of them we’re here to tell you there’s no sense agonizing over all this writing nonsense.
If you're up, don't waste your time on worrying, you might as well just write.
But when you’re up at 3:33am rewriting your short story submission, just remember you still have to work the next day. If anyone asks, tell them you had a late night karaoking.
Anyway we think you rock! And at 34thParallel what we’re about is giving you the rock-star treatment—alas without the dollars and the drugs!!
We’re a couple of writers ourselves and we know what it’s like. We both have stacks of rejection letters to our credit too, so you know we'll send you a good one if we can't use your work in 34thParallel.
We want our magazine to be the Rolling Stone of writing where you can be proud to have your work accepted, read, and acclaimed!!
Ultimately, we hope 34thParallel will be your launchpad to bigger and better things.
So that's what we are about. We invite you to submit your best work. Make it something that moves us."

The 34thParallel Editors
Trace Sheridan Swan & Martin Chipperfield

   I must say I was rather impressed by the message from the editors. They accept fiction (stories), poetry, photography, and art. If you're submitting fiction or poetry, submissions should be between 1500 and 3500 words. They want one story or poem at a time. For photography and art they want one image at a time. Simultaneous Submissions are accepted but you must let them know. They didn't say anything about cash compensation, so I am assuming they don't pay you cash. However, they did say that contributors would get a PDF copy of the Magazine. The good thing is that they do not charge a reading fee!

   There you have it. Happy Writing!

For additional information visit the official site:


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World- Contests

Song of the Day: "Unwritten" by Natasha Beddingfield

Hello All! The song of the day is quite fitting. I've hunted down some new contests. Check it out.

1. The Story Prize
    This contest is for an author that has a collection of short fiction. If your collection  
     is chosen you will win $20,000! Two runners-up will receive $5,000 each! The
     deadline is July 15, 2010 and the entry fee is $75. To view the official
     contest rules visit the link below:


2. 2010 Autumn House Fiction Contest
    One book-length manuscript will be awarded $2,500. Winners will also receive  publication, a $1,000
    advance against royalties, and a $1,500 travel grant to participate in the 2011 Autumn House Master
    Author Series in Pittsburgh. All genres are accepted, the entry fee is $25.00, and you must submit your
    manuscript by June 30, 2010. For the official details click the link below:


3. Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize
    Fiction is read by Hunger Mountain editors and guest judges. The first place winner will receive $1,000
    and publication. Two honorable mentions will receive $100 each. Entry Fee is $20.00 and the deadline is
    June 30, 2010. Get the details from the link below:


    There you have it. Opportunity is knocking, now do something about it!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ways to Save on Books

Song of the Day: "Paperback Writer" by The Beatles

   Because essentially we all want to be paperback writers! Hello all. Most of us writers can't resist a good book. From very early on my mother would take my sister and me to Barnes and Noble and we would spend the entire day reading and eating pastries from the cafe. That was my idea of a fun day (heck that's still my idea of a fun day). When I was a sophomore in college I got my first job at (go figure) a bookstore! And not just any bookstore, a discount bookstore called Bookwarehouse. They basically sold overstocked books they bought from the big chains. I spent A LOT of my money on books. In fact, I brought them home every week. In today's economy it's tougher to do that. I'm very fortunate to still be able to quench my book thirst, and I've managed to find great ways to save on my book purchases. I thought I'd share them with the world!

1. Find a local Used Book Store or Book Swap Shop
   If you're like me, this is not a great option. I promise I'm not a snob, but I don't like used books. I like to be the first to read my books, and I can't stand the way others treat them (i.e. ripped pages, food and drink spills, pen marks, etc.). If you don't care about those things then great! The prices are usually unbeatable. If you're able to find a book swap shop, even better. It's basically trading books so it will cost you nothing.

2. Find a Discount Bookstore
    If you prefer new books, try and find a bookstore like the one I used to work for. The company I worked for (Bookwarehouse) has locations all over the US. http://www.book-warehouse.com/ . If you can't find a store in your state, I'm sure there are other discount bookstores you can try and find using Google. These bookstores can save you anywhere from 50-80 % off. At my store, the novels usually ranged from $3.99-5.99 for the trade papers, 1.99-2.99 for the mass markets, and the hard covers were usually $7.99.

3. Amazon.com
    I'm not a frequent user of amazon.com but they still offer some excellent prices on books. You can also choose from new or used books.

4. Walmart
    Not only is Walmart a great place to save on all your household needs, but it's also great for your books purchases too! Walmart usually sells books at a rate that's well below the price of what the larger chains sell them for.

5. The Big Dogs- Barnes & Noble and Borders
    You can still save at the larger chains. If you sign up for emails from Barnes & Noble, they often send out coupons for 10-15% off your purchase. They also have weekly coupon for 30% off, but the list of books is hand-picked by the company. AND my personal favorite way to save would be Borders. If you sign up to receive emails, they send weekly coupons that are usually between 25-40% off. PLUS they always send at least two coupons a week. If there isn't a Borders near your residence you can use the coupon at borders.com and pay absolutely nothing for shipping if you spend $25.

Of course these aren't the only ways to save on books. There are also websites such as half.com and Ebay. Where do you buy your books?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What I've Just Finished Reading

Song of the Day: Working Day and Night by Michael Jackson

      And that's exactly what I'm doing. Working day and night. So anyway, since I'm in an MFA program, I don't always get to read what I want. Unfortunately, I am usually scrambling around trying to find a book that's good enough for the "standards" of my professors. Sometimes however, I just want to read a book for fun. Sometimes, I don't want to have to think so hard! Sometimes, I just want to be plain entertained! With that being said, I am taking this summer as an opportunity to read whatever I want. After a grueling twenty weeks of "MFA reading," I wanted something light, so I selected Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic. I enjoyed it so much that I will probably read the rest of the books in Shopaholic series. The novel is hysterical (no doubt this is partly due to Kinsella's British humor) and it's really easy to get through. If you like to laugh or just want a light read, you won't be disappointed.

What book or books are you currently reading? Are they light reads? Or more serious reads?

Also check out the contest going on at Y(A)? Cuz We Write! They have some pretty nifty prizes if you win. Click the link below or find it in my sidebar.


One last thing, per your request Pam Harris, I am sending some of my fantastic mood your way! :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World- Literary Seminar

Song of the Day: What A Feeling by Irene Cara 

   I'm in a fantastic mood today, and this song just says it all! "Take your passion and make it happen!" As you all know, I am a huge follower of Narrative Magazine. I was on their site when I stumbled across this seminar. I think I'll try and go. What could be more fun than 7 days centered on my most favorite thing in the World? I'm referring to writing by the way, though food does come in at a close second place. Check it out:

             The Hungry Muse
                 An Exploration of Food and Literature
                 The 29th annual Key West Literary Seminar

Here is what the website listed for the description:

"Each year in January, the Key West Literary Seminar explores a different literary theme, bringing acclaimed writers and readers from all over the world together in this historic island city. Four days of readings, conversations, lectures, panel discussions, and parties add up to an event that is one of today's smartest and most high-spirited literary gatherings.

This year, for the first time, we explore food in literature. The Hungry Muse will present dozens of today’s most compelling, thought-provoking, and funniest writers– memoirists, novelists, poets, historians, journalists, and all manner of lettered gastronome, gourmand, and epicure. It promises to be a mouthwatering and fascinating investigation not simply of the stuff we eat, but of all the things food stands for in our thoughts and words and stories."

     The seminar features two seminar sessions with or without a workshop session. You will have to pay extra for the workshop if you are interested in that. Admission to the seminar costs $495 (includes all literary events at the San Carlos Institute, as well as social events at various venues) and admission to the workshop costs $400-$450.

     It all sounds like a lot, but fear not! They have financial assistance. You can apply for three Fiction Awards that will cover full tuition, round-trip airfare, seven nights lodging, support for living expenses while in Key West, and the opportunity to appear onstage during the Seminar! If you get one of these awards you are pretty much set! They also offer partial Financial Assistance to teachers, librarians, students, and writers. Please note that they do have requirements and it is a process.

     For more information click the link below! Good luck! :)


Friday, June 4, 2010

To Get an MFA or not to get an MFA....That is the Question

Song of the Day: "Golden" by Jill Scott

    I was recently reading an article on the Writer's Digest website on why you should get an MFA. Obviously, it's a personal decision. This article was mostly comprised of advice from five different people (three MFA graduates and two professors). I thought it was interesting since I am currently pursuing an MFA. There were two reasons that stuck out the most to me. One reason to pursue it is because it's such a great way to network and the second is because it's good for sharpening your writing skills. Since I am currently in a program, I can attest to this being true. Take networking for example. I have met so many people in the program already. In fact, my two friends Pamela and Marquita encouraged me to keep up with this blog. (Check out Y(A) ? Cuz We Write! The link is in the sidebar!) I met them through my MFA program and they are not only great friends now, but they offer so much "writerly" support. Before this program I really didn't have much of that. Most of my friends were not interested in writing or reading. I also had the opportunity of meeting a writer named Nina Foxx. She graduated from the program last year, right when I was just beginning. She was graduating from the program and already had several books published. I asked her if she could offer any advice, and she said "If you think it's good, then it's good." I'll never forget those words. Every time I beat myself up over a piece of writing that I think falls short, I remember her words. We were also joined by another writer by the name of Carmen Green. She was also graduating and was a published writer. By the end of the conversation they both gave me their cards and said that I could email them any time. The support received in an MFA program really is incredible.
     As for my writing skills, I really do think they've gotten better. I look at the stories I start out with and how they evolve over the time period of the course. Sometimes by the end of the course it's a completely different story! My writing has improved, and there are actually a few pieces that I am proud of. Before this program, I wasn't really proud of much of my writing.
     One other thing my MFA program has done for me is force me to step outside of my box. I had never really written a story from the male perspective, and I finally tried it out over the last month during one of my fiction courses. It actually went well. The story was originally told from the female's perspective, but it sounded one thousand times better in a male voice. I'm also writing with different POV's. I'm really enjoying learning about the craft, and how many ways a story can be told. Plus, the deadlines force me to write. I have no choice but to buckle down and sit behind my computer until the work is done.
    An MFA may not land you a solid career as a writer, but it definitely has its benefits.
    Below is a link to the Writer's Digest article if you're interested. What do you think? Should writers get an MFA?


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spotlight on Caren Lissner

   So, the greatest thing happened to me a couple weeks ago! Ok, well not the greatest, but it's definitely up there with my top moments. There I was checking my Facebook messages and deleting the ridiculous amount of "crap" messages I usually get, when the name of the author of my favorite book appeared! Right there in my inbox was a message from Caren Lissner! She saw that I had listed Carrie Pilby as one of my favorite books and was letting me know that it will be re-released this summer with a new cover! I looked to see if this was some kind of "mass message," but to my surprise it was a conversation between only her and me. I messaged her back saying that her book is my absolute favorite book ever, and that I was honored that she would take the time to personally message me. She responded by saying that she was glad I didn't think she was intruding (Like I would ever think that). I told her feel free to "intrude" any time. I added her as a friend, and now I can say that I am Facebook friends with one of my favorite authors! Anyway, it was an exciting moment. Also please go check out her book if you can.
   She also has some great advice for beginning writers. My favorite section was "Don't Give Up." As writers we must continue with the fight no matter how hard it gets.You can read all of her tips on her website. Below is the link to her site. Check it out!