Category Archives: contests

Bitten by Books Editor/Author Chat and Giveaway

No Middle Grade Monday post for me today. If you want to get your MG fix for the week, visit Shannon Messenger’s Blog for today’s posts.

but I have this announcement:

Bitten by Books is offering an online chat between authors and readers tomorrow. The dialogue is ALSO a contest, a chance to win one of TWO $20 Amazon Gift Certificates.

If you RSVP TODAY to enter the contest you get a 25 point BONUS:



Tomorrow, Bitten by Books will put up a short blog post by the editors. Then readers post questions in the comments over a 24 hour period and they/we answer those questions, creating an online conversation between editors/authors and readers.

There are two $20 gift cards from For every post, readers acquire points and the two readers with the most points win. Earn 25 extra points by RSVPing to the event (you only get the points if you go back and comment tomorrow, though).

We’d love to have you there! If you’d like to help spread the word, here’s the info you need to know:

Hosted by: Bitten by Books
Event Date:  Tuesday, March 12th.
Start Time: 12:00 Central Time (US)
Contest Open: Worldwide
Prize:  Two  $20.00 Amazon Gift Cards (two winners)


Filed under contests, Science Fiction, short fiction, YA literature

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


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


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.


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

Wednesday Winners: Final Round, Feedback, and Book Draw

Thank you to all who participated in any stage
of the 50 First Lines Challenge!

(click for source)

(FEEDBACK questions to you in blue)


In Round One, you were challenged to come up with 50 first lines and pick your top FIVE. We chose FIVE lines as finalists.

(FEEDBACK: do you think this worked well? should we require a link to the person’s blog to prove they did 50?)

In Round Two, you had to use either your five lines or the finalists’ five lines and come up with 5 first paragraphs. You sent us your top 3 and we picked our TOP THREE(FEEDBACK: do you think everyone should have to use the same five finalists’ lines?)

In the Third Round, you had to pick one of the top three paragraphs and tell us what that story was about. (FEEDBACK: I’ve never tried it this way before, any comments or ideas for a different 3rd Round challenge?)


For each round, every participant got an entry into the drawing. If one of yours was chosen as a finalist, you got an extra draw.

For the DRAWING, and a choice of a print or ebook version of either Book One or Two of the Faerie Tales form the White Forest series:
Charissa and Esther Jones!

The judges consensus is that

4 AM Writer (Kathryn J) had the best storyline in Round Three (congrats 4 AM), so with a total of 6 points, you are the grand prize winner!

Not only do you get a choice of the books from above, I’m going to mail you a special prize. Once I knew it was you, I picked a prize I thought you’d really like.

Congrats to all. Thank you so much for playing. And thank you to our judges and tie-breakers (Tod, Jennifer, Natalie, and Yvette).

I won’t be around due to the book fair, but there will be some time release posts coming and some guest bloggers. I’ll try to check in from Bologna if possible.

FURTHER FEEDBACK: which was your favourite round? your least favourite? the one that challenged you the most? And – would you play again?


Filed under 50 First Lines, contests, writing exercises

50 First Line Finalists and 2nd Round Rules! Join us!

I have been trying to write this post all day. It’s just been one of those days.

Image by Adam J. Kurtz

For those just tuning in, I am hosting a writing challenge/contest and we have just finished the first round. Anyone can join in the next round, so read on.

First, thanks to the writers who took up the 50 First Lines Challenge (they wrote 50 first lines as fast as possible and submitted their favourite five). Our judges actually had their own challenge, and I had to bring in a tie-breaker to settle things.

Judges included a MG writer/educator, a spec fic publisher and sci fi writer, and an adult fiction writer, so we ran the gamut. One of them exclaimed, “These are so good! It was hard to pick.”

If you did not attempt this exercise, I highly recommend it and I’m sure any of our writers would say the same thing. It’s a fantastic way to inspire yourself.

Without further ado… the top First Lines picked are (in no particular order, mind you, that would have been chaos):

Nothing was tastier than brains, not that he could remember any other flavour.
(by Esther Jones)

Nobody wanted to claim the abandoned baby on the hill. (by 4AM Writer)

There’s no such thing as a good day in Antarctica. (By Annie Cardi)

If you destroy someone’s life, they’re yours forever. (By Annie Cardi)

I blame everything that happened on orange chicken. (By Char)

For each line our judges picked, you receive an entry into the prize drawing.

I think it’s interesting to notice that the top picks were all short and punchy. Perhaps that’s how readers like to be drawn into a story? It’s definitely something to think about.


Generally when I give this exercise to my students, the next stage is to pick 10 First Lines and write 10 First Paragraphs. You are welcome to do that, but I’m only going to ask you to do five. The five you entered, if you entered.

If you did NOT enter the first round, your job is to write 5 First Paragraphs using the WINNING First Lines above. ONLY SUBMIT YOUR TOP THREE.

I ask you to do five to complete the challenge and to give you some choice. But only submit 3 to the comment section. (you are more than welcome to link to the rest if you post them all on your blog)

Again, the idea is to write them fairly fast, not thinking too much, and go from one right to the next. This could be the start of a novel, a short story, or a piece of flash. It doesn’t matter. You can edit them afterwards all you want, just get the first drafts done fast. Maybe even set a timer for 15 – 20 minutes.


Here’s a few samples from my own pile:

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’d 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?



Filed under 50 First Lines, contests, weekend workout, writing exercises

Blog Tours, Book Tours: The Accidental Novelist on the road…

Today I kick off my Imaginary Worlds Book Tour with a virtual stop at Just Deb, where you will find an interview AND a book giveaway for the First Fan Edition (which we are almost out of and you can only order from the publisher). The “mainstream” edition is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and may be ordered from any bookstore in North America.

Deb Marshall is an assistant manager of a small town library, storyteller and writer. She also runs their library’s Backroom Kids Book Club. She is a grand supporter of Canadian literature and is running an Oh (MG/YA) Canada! Reading Challenge. Readers are challenged to devour one Canadian author’s childrens’ book per month for the year.

You can find her list of suggested reading HERE.

I don’t have dates for my other virtual book tour stops. I’ll just have to announce them when they appear. But the physical (!) book tour starts next week and public events are listed on Brigitta’s FACEBOOK page.


Filed under Brigitta of the White Forest, contests, novel adventures

Show Us Your Faerie Wings

(NOTE: contest at The White Forest goes until my birthday (Feb 17). I also have another Giveaway Contest over at GoodReads that goes through Feb 18. Although, over 600 people have entered, so your chances of winning are better on the White Forest site.)

Today I’m hanging out over at my White Forest website, hosting a contest in celebration of the new Indie Debut website.

If you pop over to the site, you could win a signed copy of the book. Oooohhh, aaaahhhh.

All this social media and virtual upkeep is a necessary challenge for debut authors (I’m guessing for seasoned authors as well). One of the things I tell people who want to get a book published, is that the hard work starts after the book is written. I think there’s a certain romanticism and nostalgia around the way it used to be in traditional publishing. But those days are gone, not coming back, and we need to figure out how to play (and stay sane) in the new paradigm.

One must be careful, though, to keep nurturing the creative side. If I had my way, I’d stay locked in my office five hours a day minimum working on writing the books series. I wish there were a monkey faerie who could do all my social media for me. (oooh! Monkey faeries! Like the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz.)

Image from "Kellie" at photoshopix (click image for site)



Filed under Brigitta of the White Forest, contests, writing life

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!


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. 🙂


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.


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

G.A. Pitchfest Part 2

The Do’s, Don’ts, Myths, Facts (around the industry, pitchfests, and pitching)

This post is a collection of things heard straight from the pros mouths and from my own observations of what I consider “bad behavior” – meaning things that will  make you annoying and appear difficult or amateur.

The last thing you want to do is appear difficult to work with or ignorant of the industry. I don’t care how good your script is, if people decide off the bat that you are going to be a pain in the ass, you’ll never get your brilliant script read. You are asking them to invest precious time, energy, and money in your project, working with you for many months, even years… if you don’t sell yourself first, you certainly won’t sell your script.

reel scrpt

… pester executives / decision makers at networking parties. The first thing out of your mouth when you meet someone at an industry event should not be a pitch. How do you know you even want to work with this person if you don’t get to know them?
… carry the DVD of a movie you made around with you trying to show it to everyone you meet.
… go to a pitchfest if you are not a serious screenwriter. Serious screenwriters have more than one script and many more in their heads. Serious screenwriters have spent time on their craft. They know how to edit and they know how to take criticism. They understand that filmmaking is a collaborative process. If you aren’t in it for the long haul (and it is a haul), you’ll be wasting everyone’s time.

reel scrpt


-NO ONE IS GOING TO STEAL YOUR IDEA. If you are afraid to pitch to an executive because you think they’re going to steal your idea you need to get over it. First off, they are professionals. If they got caught stealing ideas, their reputations would suffer. But even more practical than that… the portion of the budget that goes into the script/writing is minimal. It makes more financial sense for them to buy your idea from you than risk going to court.

(BTW – When I was teaching a screenwriting course, one of my students didn’t want to share her story with the rest of the class because she thought they might steal it. First of all, if you took that idea and gave it to 10 people, they’d end up with 10 different scripts. Second, after they wrote it, they’d have to spend months/years polishing it and pitching it and somehow get someone to produce it (where it would be changed again). Sounds like a lot of effort to me towards someone else’s idea. But also – you’ll never get the feedback you need if you don’t share your script.)

-Whoever has said your script won’t get read/made if over 100 pages is misinformed. Keeping it tight is a must (i.e. 130 page scripts tend to put people off), but if it’s a tight script at 115 pages, and it’s a great script of course, people won’t care. A great script is a great script.

-Big agencies are not always better. They could be too big for you. They might not have the time to really work with you. They are really looking for the NEXT BIG SCRIPT. You may be better off with a boutique agency.

reel scrpt


Network!  Get to know people and get to know the people that you know. You don’t have to know a lot of executives to get assistance in the industry. Start with the people you know already. If you have a friend who is an assistant director, take them out to lunch and ask them for advice. People are suprisingly more helpful than you might think. You just need to ask.

-Take chances and be flexible!  Don’t be married to your ideas (could the protagonist be the magician rather than the orphan?) or with your vision of what your career looks like. If someone asks you to write a commercial for a petstore and you think this is beneath you, you could be missing the opportunity to make a good impression on people who might offer you more work.

-Love what you write. Whether high concept or art film, it’s going to be with you for a long while. Everyone can smell inauthenticity in a script written simply because you thought you were following some formula for a blockbuster.

-Enter reputable contests. Although not the “golden key” to production, they will get you noticed and management companies do care. BE CAREFUL of scammy contests with no professional merit or valuable offering for the winner. The Reel Breakthrough panelists all mentioned Cinestory, Fade In, and the Nicholl Fellowship. One panelist said she entered a contest and didn’t win, but one of the judges optioned her script.


Filed under contests, film biz, industry poop, random poop, screenwriting, serious play

G.A. Pitchfest Part 1

There’s so much to tell about the Great American Pitchfest that I need to break my posts down into bite-size nuggets.

Right off the top I have to say the whole thing is worth the price of admission. If you are serious about screenwriting and ready to take yourself to the next level, it is definitely the place to be. If nothing else, it will give you a crash course in pitch practice, something that every screenwriter must learn to do (no matter how much we detest it).

(I have only been to the FTX Pitchfest in Vancouver and to this one, but there is also the Hollywood Pitch Festival in August, which is even larger)

Saturday consisted of FREE workshops and panels that anyone could attend, even if they weren’t signed up to pitch on Sunday. I’ve attended so many workshops and panels on screenwriting that much of the material was redundant. But for those who have been writing in a vacuum, there was a great deal of value.

There were workshops aimed towards writing such as “megahit movie climaxes,” “mastering the creative process,” “writing great endings,” and Dara Marks “Inside Story” workshop on personal themes. There were also workshops on how to pitch, how to network, legal tips, and working with agents.

There were panels of action movie screenwriters, comedy screenwriters, executives giving advice on what they’re looking for in a pitch, and my favourite panel: Reel Breakthroughs.

Reel Breakthroughs was a panel of screenwriters who were just a step or two ahead of us, the ones who had recently gotten feature scripts optioned/bought. I liked it because it was very authentic and encouraging. It was personal stories from people I could relate to. The message to me was simply keep doing what I’m doing. There is no one way to make it, you just have to persevere and ride the ups and downs. They had taken courses, entered the right contests, and networked. (hands down they all said the CINESTORY and FADE IN contests were the most useful)

And of course, they kept writing… and writing… and writing.

(UP NEXT: do’s, don’ts, myths, and facts)


Filed under contests, film biz, industry poop, screenwriting, serious play