Category Archives: Calls for Submission

Upcoming Deadlines for Deadline Centric Writers

I’m a fan of deadlines. If you have to set your own hours and organize your own day, you might be a fan of deadlines as well. Lately, I’ve been using calls for themed anthologies as deadlines for producing short stories.

I don’t enter a lot of contests (other than my publisher sending my published books out). I prefer to put my energies toward submitting for publication. But this Writer’s Digest contest seems like a no-brainer to me:

Writer’s Digest “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest

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First off, I love that they call it “lucky agent” instead of lucky writer. 🙂

Second off, it’s completely free to enter. And easy.

This is a recurring online contest with agent judges. The details of each contest are essentially the same, but the genres change. This round the focus is on science fiction (adults or teens) or any kind of young adult novel.

Top 3 winners get a critique of the first 10 double-spaced pages of work by the agent judge (Victoria Marini). Apparently in a previous Lucky Agent contest the agent judge signed one of the winners. Getting agents to read your work is always a great thing. Getting them to critique it is GOLD.

Deadline: January 31, 2013

Their requirements are simple. You make 2 social media posts to promote it, and then email in the first 200 words of your novel. What have you got to lose?

(on a side note, this was posted on Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog, which I suggest subscribing to for information on literary agents, literary agencies, query letters, etc. I like reading his agent profiles.)

Spellbound Children’s Fantasy eZine

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If you write for a slightly younger audience (8-12 yrs), I just discovered this fantasy eZine (they were a print mag for years and now relaunched). They publish themed magazines and the theme for their summer 2013 issue is: DRAGONS.

Since I’ve not written a short story with dragons in it, I’ve accepted this challenge. HERE are the guidelines. This is a paying magazine. We like that.

Deadline for Summer 2013 Dragon issue: March 31.

Always remember if you submit to a magazine or anthology, READ the previous magazine or work by that publisher to see if your work is a match.

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Filed under Calls for Submission, contests, writing life, YA literature

Writing Life: The Short Shot

I had written short stories for classes or if someone invited me to write one, but I had never thought about writing for the short story market until about a year-and-a-half ago when I was asked to teach a dystopian fiction class to teenagers focused around producing a short story.

I always write with my students and use the development of my own story to demonstrate the creative process. I ended up creating something in my first dystopian fiction class that I really liked and thought there might be a market for the story.

I started reading more short stories on line, attending short fiction readings, and picked up several speculative fiction anthologies, and you know what? There’s some really interesting work out there.

Many people, including myself, romanticize novel writing and make that their number one goal. But it can take years to finish a novel to satisfaction and years more to see it in print. Short story writing can be extremely satisfying because one can finish a short story in a matter of weeks or even days with genuine focus.

You need to write as much as possible to hone your skills, and short stories allow you to explore numerous ideas and worlds and characters without too much of a commitment. It’s much less tragic to toss a short story that isn’t working then to trash an entire novel.

Getting short stories published is also a great way to keep your work in the public consciousness before your novel is published (or between novels being published). Sometimes it can take a while, but generally short story publication happens much quicker. For instance, I submitted to the Futuredaze anthology in June, was accepted the following month, and the anthology will be published in February 2013. From first draft to publication was less than a year. How many can say that about a novel that wasn’t self-published?

The best part? You don’t need an agent to submit to most publishers of short stories. And, unless it’s an “invitation only” anthology, publishers will put out calls for submissions, often inspiring the writer with themes for their magazines and anthologies (Canadian Zombies! Doppleganger Dragons!)

There are also paying markets. You won’t see advances and royalties, but you’ll get paid for your words and rights revert back to the author upon publication, so if you love your characters and your story and want to expand it into a novel later on, that’s your prerogative.

Or you could choose to self-publish “ebooks” of each of your short stories at .99 a pop if you want.

Pretty sweet.

If this inspires you and you want to check this world out, here are some recent calls for short stories in the paid market:

http://www.clockworkphoenix.com/#guidelines

http://stonethreadpublishing.com/contests/

http://gabrielle-edits.com/hero2_open_submissions/

If interested in finding these markets, subscribe to yahoo groups CRWROPPS (Creative Writers Opportunities List and Duotrope (soon to be a paid listings @ $5 / month) to keep abreast of new calls for work.

And please feel free to post links to any calls you’ve found lately!

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Filed under Calls for Submission, do something different, short fiction, writing life

Weekend Workout: End-of-Year Short Story Challenge! (or 50 First Lines Redux!)

I’ve been jumping up and down in my mind (I do that) to use some material from the 50 first lines exercise I started months ago. I used this exercise, another of my favourites, for a writing contest back in February and the results were terrific.

The whole 50 First Lines exercise is a blast and it works. I’ve proven to myself over and over again that it works, and now I have an excuse to use some of my results.

There’s an open call for a short story anthology I’m interested in submitting to and the deadline is Dec 31st, so it’s perfect timing. If you’d like to join me and submit to this anthology (or to any other anthology or magazine or just want to finish a short story by the end of the year), you can play along. You can play along regardless of anything, but having a goal and a deadline is a great motivator.

If you did not participate in February and want to catch up, or start over again, here’s the whole exercise:

STEP ONE: Write 50 first lines. Seriously. This is not as difficult as it sounds. I recommend doing it in one 30 minute sitting. Just crank them out off the cuff. Don’t think too hard or you’ll crush the gems.

For inspiration, here are the winners from the first round of the contest last Feb.

STEP TWO: Pick your Top 10. Here were mine:

It was the colour of vomit… probably because it was vomit.

The clown nose was the last straw.

The idea was half-baked – – but then again, she liked things a little raw.

The horse was her neighbour’s and they were both studs.

Green, blue, red . . . what mattered the colour of his blood when his heart was a broken hinge?

It was a perfect morning for picking mushrooms.

I was taking a short cut through the cemetery when I spotted it. Him. It.

If he had told her about his origami-folding autistic idiot-savant brother in the first place, they wouldn’t be in this jam.

“I think it can be reattached,” he said.

It wasn’t the first time she had been arrested for bar-fighting, and the other time wasn’t her fault either.

STEP THREE: Write 10 first paragraphs.

After you’ve chosen your Top 10 first lines, write the first paragraph for each. Again, just crank them out as quickly as possible in one sitting. Don’t edit, don’t over think, just write.

Here are the winning paragraphs from the contest.

STEP FOUR: pick 3-5 of your own that you like

Here were my 5 favourite paragraphs:

Green, red, blue . . . what mattered the colour of his blood when his heart was a broken hinge? He lay his head back down on the institutional hospital pillow. The nurses didn’t know what to do with him. He had red blood spurting from a gash in his arm and green blood coming from his nose. He reached up and touched it. His nose. Where Karmen had punched him.

 ~ ~ ~

It was a perfect morning for picking mushrooms. Green and misty in that way that spring teases. If she could identify them, she’s pick them now. They had sprouted up overnight, literally overnight, on the median across from the bus stop. But she couldn’t tell the difference between the poisonous and nonpoisonous ones. Nor did she know how much of the poisonous ones to add into a tincture, so that it would be just this side of magic, and not lethal.

 ~ ~ ~

I was taking a short cut through the cemetery when I spotted it. Him. It. The limping coyote. I had always assumed it was a he. I hadn’t seen him in weeks and I was glad he was safe, although not glad it was almost dark and that I was alone. I shifted my grocery bag to my left arm. Was I supposed to make myself big or small in the face of a coyote? Run towards him, back away, play dead?

 ~ ~ ~

If he had told her about his origami-folding autistic idiot-savant brother in the first place, they wouldn’t be in this jam. Instead he had told her to “wait” outside the non-descript building while he went inside. When he reemerged, sheepishly introducing Simon to her, almost apologetic, she was pale as a ghost. Unresponsive, even when he waved his hand in front of her face. He had no idea what had happened in the 20 minutes she had been sitting there on the bench. He was spooked, but Simon seemed to be all right. His brother placed his paper crane in Marion’s lap and she snapped out of her trance.

 ~ ~ ~

“I think it can be reattached,” he said.  He examined the finger more closely.  The wires had fried, but the finger itself seemed functional. “Here,” he said, handing the finger to ROY, “hold onto that until we can get back to the garage. I’m going to collect some more conch shells from the beach.”

 ~ ~ ~

STEP FIVE: Pick the paragraph that “clicks” for you, ignites the proverbial light bulb, and write a draft of that story by NEXT FRIDAY (Dec 21). That’s one week for a short story (2,000-5,000 words). You can do it. That still leaves 10 days to edit it for submission.

If you’re having trouble choosing from among your brilliant 5 paragraphs, try working on each one a little and see what happens. Since the anthology I’m submitting to is themed (it’s about heroes coming home) it helped in my selection. I looked for the “hero coming home” in each one. I started three different possible stories until one took off.

You’ll know when it does.

NEXT WEEKEND WORKOUT: We’ll edit and polish them by the end of the month.

Have a great weekend!

P.S. Someone just told me writer couple Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch suggested starting a short story each Monday, finishing it during the week, and submitting it that Friday. Now that sounds like a great challenge, and with 50 first lines, you’ve already got a year of stories waiting for you. (Hmmm, I smell a 2013 writing challenge for me)

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Filed under 50 First Lines, Calls for Submission, weekend workout, writing exercises

Training for the CyberSpace Open: A script per day!

When I started my 10 day screenwriting challenge the other day, little did I realize how this might get me in shape for one of the most interesting screenwriting contests I’ve seen:  Screenwriting Expo’s CyberSpace Open.

The contest is set up in round-robin (elimination) style. Each round the participants must write a five page short script around a specific premise. You can write from anywhere. To win you need to survive 3 rounds, each with a tighter deadline than the last.

In the final round, the top 10 writers have only 90 minutes to write a 5-page script. Whew!

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I’ve been writing a short script per day for the past 7 days. I missed one day, so I only have 6 scripts. I was hoping to write 2 today, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

I may actually keep doing it for 2 weeks. We’ll see if I run out of steam.

I will post my favourite script of the 10 (or 14) right on this site. 🙂

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Filed under Calls for Submission, contests, cool poop, film biz, industry poop, screenwriting, serious play, writing exercises

Pick a Challenge, any Challenge

August is a fine time to work your creative mojo. Everyone’s doing it! And they’re doing it in the form of challenges and experiments. Below are a few that I recommend.

Please let me know if there are any more out there in the coming month/s and I’ll add them to the list.

The 3:15 Experiment

Anyone who follows my blog with any regularity knows that I participate in the annual 3:15 Experiment every year. Basically, a shifting menagerie of poets (and prose writers, actually) wakes up at 3:15 AM EACH morning during the month of August and writes. Our goal is to write while riding a 1/2 dream state. Magic happens. We have a Facebook Group now. Join us.

August Postcard Poetry Fest

Started by Paul Nelson and Lana Ayers, the Postcard Poetry Fest challenges you to send 31 postcard poems, one for each day of August. They START it NOW if you’d like to participate… and I’m not sure you still can, but you can go to their website or FACEBOOK group and ask.

The rules say that on July 27th (tomorrow!), you write an original poem right on a postcard and mail it to the person on the list below your name. Starting on August 1st, ideally in response to a card YOU receive, keep writing a poem a day on a postcard and mailing it to successive folks on the list until you’ve sent out 31 postcards. I’ve never participated but some year I think I’ll write my 3:15 poems on postcards. That would be fun.

10 shorts in 10 days

This is a little invention of my friend Tod McCoy and myself. It happens irregularly (whenever we feel like lighting a fire under our butts). We write either 10 short films or 10 pieces of micro fiction in 10 days. This August we’re writing short scripts. Anyone out there is welcome to join us. There is no official website and no official place to post them, although if you’d like to post them on your blog and send us a link, that’d be swell.

We’re starting on AUGUST 10 and running until August 19. The rules are simple: Write a short script (or story) per day. Badda bing, badda boom. In the past our short scripts have run about 3-6 pages (in standard format). If you wonder what I mean by micro fiction, check out any one of my 56 Flavours stories, most of which were written during a 10 day challenge.

The 3-Day Novel Contest

This contest has been running for 30 years. It wins. I’ve only participated once, but had a blast doing it. Some day I’ll dig out the novel and rewrite it. It happens over Labour Day weekend (Sept 5-7 this year). They also have a Facebook page. If you want to officially participate, and for a chance at fame and fortune, you have to register, which involves $50. If you just want the challenge of trying something new and don’t care about official registration, I suggest forming a group and holing up somewhere in a 24 hour coffee shop together. Oh, yeah, the object is to write a novel in 3 days.

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Filed under Calls for Submission, Collaborations, contests, flash fiction, inspirational poop, poetry, serious play, The 3:15 Experiment, writing exercises