This is kind of exciting.
I’ve been nominated for the Expat Blog Awards for my writing about living in India.
If you have a second, please vote for me by leaving a comment here…
This is kind of exciting.
I’ve been nominated for the Expat Blog Awards for my writing about living in India.
If you have a second, please vote for me by leaving a comment here…
|The Time & Place Prize is a new international literary
award established to provide the two things every writer
requires . . .the time and the placeto write.
|Join us in France!
The winner of The Time & Place Prize receives a month-long stay in an idyllic
cottage nestled among the menhirs, myths and mists of Bretagne, France.The Prize includes:
|Round-trip airfare to and from Paris, France|
|plus ground transport to and from the cottage|
|Room & board for the month of July in a|
|private cottage in bucolic Brittany|
|The cottage is equipped with all the tools a|
|writer needs, including library, computer,
internet access, a complete OED, etc.
|Time and place to work on your ideas|
The Time & Place Prize
All literary genres considered.
Winner(s) selected by independent, third party judges.
Submissions limited to 5,000 words.
A $25 submission fee will be charged.
Obscura Journal hosts a short-story contest where they provide two pictures and you bridge the gap between those photos.
I entered once before and did not win.
Well, I am nothing if not consistent. I didn’t win again. 😎
But I don’t want my short little story to go to waste. So, I will share it with you.
Click here first to see the pictures (oh and I guess you can read the actual winner’s story if you must) …. then read on for my interpretation of how those pictures make sense together.
Thomas stumbled toward Ryan’s bed, leaned down, and shook his brother to wake him in the wee hours of a misty September morning. He raised his pointer finger toward his mouth and slowly uncurled it. Ryan started to speak but Thomas stopped him with his other hand, which reeked of marijuana smoke and cough medicine.
Ryan stretched his arms above his head and looked toward the retired milk crate next to his bed. The hands on his grandfather’s watch revealed it was only 3:00 am. Ryan tilted his head, listening for the familiar sounds of sirens that often filled the night air. But this night was absent the common warning screech and Thomas’ urgency lost its logic. Ryan rubbed his eyes as Thomas searched for his brother’s shoes. On the way out the front door, Thomas grabbed their sweatshirts and a crumpled brown grocery bag. Ryan grabbed his Rubik’s cube.
They marched through the hazy mist with Ryan leaning back into Thomas’ left-handed push. The older brother was agitated and frantic. As keys jangled in his free hand, he mumbled to himself something about “money, a lot of money” and “how was he going to get it”. He stopped twice under streetlights to look more closely at the keys on the large brass ring, refusing to answer questions or even look at Ryan.
Thomas only let go of his brother’s shoulder when they reached the doors to the library. After a quick scan of the area, Thomas unlocked the glass doors. He returned his grip on Ryan and ushered him over to the olive green couch in the empty reading room. Then he motioned for Ryan to sit down and threw the brown bag onto Ryan’s lap. Thomas immediately started pacing and Ryan nervously worked to solve the puzzle in his hands and in his thoughts.
He knew too well that nothing good ever came from Thomas’ pacing.
Behind them, a man in a striped suit with his jacket tightly buttoned flung the doors open and rushed toward Thomas. But Thomas stopped him just inside the threshold and whispered, “Not yet. Let me leave first.”
“Hey Ryan, I’ll be right back,” Thomas yelled over his left shoulder, as the man escorted him out with the same pushing motion that landed Ryan in the library’s lobby.
Ryan set aside his cube and squinted at the books on the wall. They were all so thick with lots of letters in their titles. Without his glasses he couldn’t be sure but he imagined there wouldn’t be a single picture among their dense pages. He wished he had brought his comic book. Curious, he turned his focus to the bag’s contents – a piece of charcoal, a sketch pad, and a soft green apple.
Thomas knew Ryan loved to draw. He even complimented his work when he wasn’t too busy pacing. Just as Ryan opened the pad and positioned the charcoal, an older man came in through the doors. He walked slowly over and joined Ryan on the couch. As the man started talking about the big wall of books, his dusty scent distracted Ryan and tickled his nose.
Just after Ryan sneezed, the old man pulled out a handkerchief. He covered Ryan’s face with it and Ryan fell asleep gripping the piece of charcoal. His sketchpad dropped easily to the floor.
When Ryan woke up, he found himself on at least the second floor of an abandoned building. He noticed the charcoal was beginning to stain his sweaty palms. In his imagination, the air smelled like home and he hoped it was close by. He scanned the opening to the room below hoping for Thomas but heard only mumbling from beneath the rickety staircase. Out of the corner of his eye, Ryan saw a rat scatter away with his apple. He dropped the charcoal as he screeched.
Instantly, heavy footsteps pounded on the staircase until a shadow appeared over Ryan. His shoulders curled as he scooted into the corner.
The man in the striped suit fanned a stack of money at Ryan’s face.
“Your brother’s a real hero. He owes us cash and he gives us you instead. Turns out you might be worth more anyhow.”
Ryan could barely breathe as the man crushed the charcoal with the toe of his black shoe. Then, chuckling, the man lowered his pudgy finger into the dust and mockingly wrote “Help Me” on the wall and turned to go back downstairs.
Laughter erupted when he returned to the older man below. Smoke rose through the holes in the stairs and Ryan grew increasingly nauseous. The morning sun shone through the slits in the dilapidated walls and shed light on the true horror of his situation.
The rusty hinges on the front door groaned and Ryan heard Thomas’ shaky voice declare, “I have the money. Give me back my brother.”
“Oh thank God,” Ryan thought, grateful that the worst possible truth might not be real and that his older brother could still be his hero.
And then he heard a crack, as the man in the striped suit bent Thomas’ arm backwards to prevent him from reaching the stairs, “No, actually the boy is better. We’re keeping him. Someone’s coming over in a few to check him out.”
Thomas stammered, “No. A deal’s a deal. I have the money.”
“That’s right,” the man agreed, “but you have a lot to learn about the rules. When you’re late, there’s hell to pay.”
The jovial tone of the men shifted when Thomas clicked the hammer on his freshly polished 45.
“Whoa, there. We outnumber you. Don’t do anything stupid.”
“This will fix the stupid that’s already been done.”
Ryan fainted when the third gunshot echoed up the stairs. He collapsed just a second too soon to hear his brother’s footsteps on the stairs and the man in the striped suit pleading, “Don’t just leave me here, man. Help me.”
Apparently, that is the way to get a book written.
Plant your arse in a seat and click away at the keyboard.
Just in case you don’t remember every detail of the life that I chronicle here, I’ll take a sec to remind you that I am writing a novel called The Alligator Purse. You can read chapter 1 here, if you like.
For the past three years, I have focused on non-fiction (aka this blog). And, then. Well, then I joined a writing group that encouraged me to try my hand at fiction. Now I am drinking the Kool-aid and have taken on a full-fledged novel.
That was brave, right? I know.
What was I thinking, right?
I know. Believe me, I know.
But now I am thinking, maybe some of you want the Kool-aid, too. Maybe some of you are writing a novel for the first time. Or maybe just an article or a short story – because maybe you are smarter than I am and maybe you don’t want to overwhelm yourself all at once – right before school gets out and the kids are home a.l.l. d.a.y.
I know, what was I thinking?
But maybe it would be fun not to write this novel all by my lonesome. I mean, sure, I will write the book with my own ideas and story ideas. But maybe, just maybe, we can skip down the yellow brick road together.
So, I will tell you what I am doing along the way and what works and what wasn’t so great.
Here are my first thoughts…
Arse in Seat Modus Operandi
The first thing I can tell you is that you must put your arse in a seat. And type. A lot. And then. A lot more.
That woman in the picture is not me – but she makes me want to highlight my hair again. Not all blond on the top like hers, but you know soft-subtle highlights.It’s summer after all…
Erghhhhh. See how easy it is for me to get distracted. Arse in Seat. Arse in Seat. Not Distracted. Arse in Seat.
Anyseat, I am starting my fourth chapter – I am at about 6,000 words. A typical novel runs about 75,000 words. Yes, I have a l.o.n.g. way to go.
My entire story is not completely plotted out, although I am pretty sure I know 5 or 6 major story events that must happen and how I would like the book to end. But the only way I am going to find out the details in between is to write them. (That, and drink more Kool-aid, possibly spiked with Vodka.)
I will continue to go to my writers group mostly because I love them dearly and they serve yummy snacks. But also because they encourage me to write. And they tell me when I am not doing a great job – in a kind, loving way – but they let me know when something isn’t working. Plus, I am accountable to them. They expect me to submit chapters on a regular basis.
We meet once a week during the day when my kids are at school. That works well for me.
Take notes here – you want to be sure to find a writers group that has most of its members submitting work on a regular basis. You want to surround yourself with serious writers, who are writing.
If you are wondering how to find a writers group – try this:
1. Meetup – this site is great for all sorts of meetups (groups of people who like doing the same thing with other people) and there are tons of writing groups listed.
2. If your town has a university – call the English Department and see if have any writing groups.
3. Try your local library. They usually coordinate book clubs and might be willing to coordinate a writing group as well.
4. Take a writing class – many writing groups come from students who took a class together.
5. Simply ask around – I am amazed out how many aspiring authors are out in the world putting pen to paper. You might be surprised at who is interested in starting a group with you.
My writing group is awesomesauce and it’s amazing that they are all writers. But that means they read a story differently than someone who is primarily a reader. Writers are more technical. They know the jargon and they will spew it out at you when necessary.
Beta readers are just people who like to read. They can tell you if your story is marketable because they will tell you if they would pass your book on to a friend when they are done with it.
The only thing you have to be careful of with beta readers is that they will tell you what they want to happen next. You have to remember that you are driving the story line. You determine the plot. They tell you if what you have already written works.
I asked my beta readers two things…
1. To promise not to share my chapters with anyone else. I told them if they know of someone who would like to be a beta reader, I would happily add her name to the distribution list. But I need to know who is getting what and when.
2. To be perfectly honest. I absolutely want to hear what works and what they like. But, more importantly, I want to hear where they get stuck – what doesn’t make sense. I want to know what piques their interest and makes them want to read more. And I absolutely want to know what questions they have – so I make sure to answer them all.
I have signed up for two classes – both through Writers Digest.
The second class begins mid-June and is taught by Mark Spencer. It is an Advanced Novel Writing Course. You have to have 10,000 words written at the beginning of the course and the plan is to get you to 50,000 by the end of the 8-week session. Gulp.
My arse will need to be in a seat quite a bit.
I won this contest because I took a chance and entered. There were tons of great entries and I just got lucky that my friends love me enough to vote for me.
Web Presence – aka Platform
This is a word that sends most novice writers right back under the blankets. I don’t know a lot about all of this but I do have a blog, another blog, a twitter, a facebook, and a pinterest account. I also reserved www.TheAlligatorPurse.com so that no one can take it before I become wildly successful and try to snag it too late. I also reserved my full name as a url so that I can start working on my name as my brand.
For Shakespeare’s sake, keep a notebook with you or at least something you can write down your ideas on. Trust me on this one. You are going to have a moment of sheer brilliance at the most unexpected time and you are going to be so confident that you couldn’t possibly forget it. Then you are going to start noticing other people’s hair color and “poof”, your idea will be gone. Lost 4-evah. So write it down the minute you have it.
This is the most important thing – so it probably should have gone at the top – pretend it’s there okay?
You must own the fact that you are a writer. When you are at a cocktail party and someone asks you what you do, you must answer confidently, “I am a writer.” Do not explain that you are not published. Do not explain that your mother loves your work. Dear heavens, please do not explain that. Do not explain that it’s really more of a hobby.
YOU. ARE. A. WRITER. period. You Write. Therefore. YOU. ARE. A. WRITER. If you are not actually writing, remember the Arse in Seat axiom.
That is all for now. Because in a moment of extreme weakness, I signed up for a class and have 10,000 (quality) words due to a published author who will critique my work in two weeks.
I am going to keep my arse in this seat until I no longer feel like this…..
Disclaimer #1: It is important to note that the Arse in Seat Model does not work for all disciplines. For example, if you are hoping to compete in a marathon of more than mere words, you must get your arse out of the seat.
Disclaimer #2: This picture is also not me. I do not wear heels and I do not dress in all white – not even after Easter. And my floor is very honestly not that clean. Never will be.
We had to write a haiku about St. Patrick’s Day or about writing.
I wrote this one
Why do I have to
Write a haiku to talk with
you? Can’t I just call?
There were over 250 entries and I made the finalists list.
If you are so inclined (insert my begging, pleading voice here), you can go here and vote for it. Names are not attached to the polling box, so you have to find it by the wording (see above 😎 )
Voting ends at 11:59p on Saturday, March 24th – so please hurry. And thanks!
UPDATE – I won, I really did! Yeah for me and thanks for voting!
A little over a month ago, I joined a second writing group. Yeah for me. I still love my original writing group a whole bunch but the second group is an amazing complement to my writing experience.
Several of the women also blog. Yeah again. And the other day Bryn posted information about this contest on her site. It is called Bridge the Gap. Willing writers are presented two pictures and are challenged to write a story (in under 1,000 words) that connects the two images. These types of prompts are fabulous if you ever feel like you just don’t know what to write about. I have not written fiction in a very, very long time and this was just the kick in the pen I needed.
It sounds a wee bit scary because the pictures don’t appear to relate to each other but they are supposed to seem to have absolutely nothing in common. That pushes your creativity. There is a reasonable word limit of 1,000 words (that about 2 single-spaced pages – but it can be under that limit). That makes it less intimidating. The reviewers make paper airplanes out of the submissions when they are done reading them. That means they must be fun people.
There is even a cash prize of $50. Yeah thrice. But don’t bother submitting for the Feb. 16th deadline – because I just hit enter on my submission. 😉
I did not know this but apparently every year Kohl’s recognizes and rewards young volunteers (ages 6-18) across the country for their amazing contributions to their communities. This year they are recognizing more than 2,100 kids with more than $415,000 in scholarships and prizes. Listed below are the rules taken directly from their website. If you think you would like to nominate someone (and you can nominate your own children), please, please, please do not just rely on what is written here. Check out their website.
Official Rules For Kohl’s Cares®
Eligibility: No purchase necessary. Students eligible for nomination (“Students”) for the Kohl’s Cares® Scholarship Program (“Program”) must be legal U.S. residents of a state in which a Kohl’s store is located. Students must be between the ages of 6 and 18 and not yet a high school graduate as of March 15, 2011. Each Student must be nominated by someone age 21 years or older. Parents may nominate their own children. Associates of Kohl’s Department Stores, Inc. (“Kohl’s”) and/or Associates’ immediate family members may not nominate their children or minor dependents. Kohl’s Associates may nominate non-related children who are not members of the Associates’ household. For purposes of this Program, “immediate family members” include the Associate’s parents, children, spouse and other members of the Associate’s household who are declared also as dependents on the Associate’s federal income tax return. Employees of Scholarship Management Services and its respective affiliates may not participate in this Program.
Students who were a prior Kohl’s Cares® regional or national scholarship recipient are not eligible to win a scholarship under the 2011 Program.
Nominations: Nomination forms may only be completed and submitted at www.kohlskids.com beginning at 8 a.m. CST, February 1, 2011. Forms must be submitted and
signed electronically (by typing your name) by a nominator who is 21 years or older no later than 11:59 p.m. CST, March 15, 2011. One nomination form should be submitted per Student. Nomination forms containing multiple names will not be accepted. One nominator may nominate multiple Students by submitting multiple nomination forms each containing a unique email address. All sections of the nomination form must be completed.
Nominations should describe how the Student has contributed to the community in a meaningful way by performing volunteer services that helped non-family members.
The volunteer activity must have occurred within the last 12 months (March 15, 2010–March 15, 2011). Financial need or academic performance will not be considered in
the review and selection of winners.
Kohl’s and Scholarship Management Services shall not be responsible for misdirected, incomplete or late nomination forms. All nominations become property of Kohl’s and Scholarship Management Services and will not be returned or acknowledged. Additional information about a Student and/or documentation may be requested by Kohl’s or Scholarship Management Services. To remain eligible, parents must provide all reasonably requested documentation and information upon Kohl’s or Scholarship Management Services’ request.
As a supporter of equal opportunity, Kohl’s will work with Scholarship Management Services to distribute awards to minority students on a basis at least proportionate to the number of known minority Students nominated.
See below to learn more about the Nomination process.
Awards: Nomination forms will be separated into two age groups: ages 6-12 and ages 13-18. Kohl’s plans to recognize one Student from each age group as a store winner
for each Kohl’s store. Store winners will receive a $50.00 Kohl’s Gift Card. Additionally, over two hundred $1,000 regional scholarship awards for postsecondary education are planned, half to each age group. Ten $9,000 national scholarships for postsecondary education will be awarded, five to each age group. Since a national winner is also a regional winner, the total scholarship amount for national winners is $10,000 each. In addition, Kohl’s donates $1,000 to a non-profit organization on behalf of each national winner.
Notification: Store winners will be notified in May 2011. Regional winners will be notified in June 2011. National winners will be notified in July 2011.
Non-recipients and nominators will not be notified.
Recipients Claiming Scholarships: All recipients will be required to sign and return a Publicity Release/Acceptance Form as a condition of receiving a gift card and/or
scholarship. Scholarship redemption is subject to recipient submitting verification of full-time enrollment in an undergraduate program at an accredited two-year or four-year college, university or vocational/technical school (a “Qualifying Institution”). In the event a recipient does not graduate from high school or does not enroll in a Qualifying Institution within two years after high school graduation, the scholarship will be forfeited. All scholarship recipients may be subject to a criminal background check.
Scholarship Restrictions: Scholarship awards must be used for educational expenses at a Qualifying Institution. These expenses may include tuition, fees, room
and board, books and supplies, transportation and other miscellaneous education related expenses. Scholarships will be paid in one installment in September and
will be mailed to each recipient’s home address payable to the school for the student.
Awards are one time only and are not renewable. No substitutions or transfers are permitted. Limit one award per household per year.
Nomination Form and Process: Visit www.kohlskids.com and click on “Nominate a Kid.” You will need to read and agree to an online Consent and register as a nominator.
During the nomination process, you will be able to leave the site by clicking on the Save and Log out button located on any application page. To return, you must enter the
username and password you entered when registering for your nomination account.
Correspondence to nominators will be via email only; check your email regularly. You must provide a valid email address that accepts bulk email. To ensure delivery of messages, add firstname.lastname@example.org to your contacts, email address book or safe senders list.
Nominators may wish to gather the following information before beginning the nomination process:
• Information about the Student: Including full name, address, age, birth date, phone number and current grade in school.
• Information about the project: Including items collected, money raised, time spent, number of people affected, outcome of the project and general project description.
Nominators are solely responsible for submitting in English all information necessary for the nomination process. Nominations found to be incomplete as of the nomination deadline will not be processed. No faxed or mailed nomination materials will be accepted. No email attachments are allowed.
All information submitted is considered confidential and is reviewed only by Scholarship Management Services, Kohl’s partner in managing the Kohl’s Cares® Scholarship
Program. Information about selected Students will be provided to Kohl’s for purposes of verification of eligibility, demographic research, publicity and recipient communication.
Carefully review your nomination before submission. All pages must be completed and entered in the format described in order to electronically submit the form. Standard capitalization must be used when entering data. Once the nomination is submitted, your nomination account will be closed and no revisions can be made. The nomination must be submitted electronically by 11:59 p.m. CST, March 15, 2011. A confirmation email will be sent once you’ve electronically submitted your nomination.
Additional Terms: Taxes on awards of any kind are the sole responsibility of the recipients. By participating, the nominators and Students agree:
(1) to these Official Rules and all decisions of Kohl’s and Scholarship Management Services which shall be final in all respects;
(2) to the use of their names, photos, likenesses, video, and/or images in any media, including without limitation on the internet and in social media, for advertising, promotional and publicity purposes in relation to this program without prior written consent or compensation where legal and subject to a signed Publicity Release/Acceptance Form; and
(3) to release, discharge and hold harmless Kohl’s, Scholarship Management Services, and their respective subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, directors, and employees, from any and all claims or damages arising out of, in any way, their participation in this program.
(4) Kohl’s reserves the right to cancel, suspend or extend the Kohl’s Cares® Scholarship Program at any time, with or without notice. Scholarship Management Services and Kohl’s reserve the right to interpret these rules and to make all decisions concerning the award, acceptance, and use of scholarships in situations not covered by these Rules.
Call: 1-507-931-1682 and ask for Kohl’s Cares® Scholarship Program
Kohl’s Cares® Scholarship Program
Scholarship Management Services
One Scholarship Way
Saint Peter, MN 56082
Clements International Announces 3rd Annual Expat Youth Scholarship
Clements International, the leading provider of insurance solutions for expatriates and international organizations, announces its 3rd annual scholarship program for expatriate students.
Clements International’s Expat Youth Scholarship is a unique contest exclusively for expat students who spend their childhoods moving between different countries and cultures. This year’s theme asks participants to create a video explaining their favorite thing about their host country and its culture. Clements will award a total of $10,000 to students ages 12-18 of any nationality who have resided in a foreign country for at least two consecutive years.
“We’re so excited to offer the Expat Youth Scholarship again this year with a new twist,” said President Chris Beck. “Incorporating online video and Facebook voting will really make this scholarship contest an interactive experience for everyone involved, including participants, expats, supporters and viewers around the world.”
This year, everyone gets a chance to help determine the winners. A Judges Panel consisting of individuals representing the expatriate community will determine the top 12 video entries, which will be posted on the Expat Youth Scholarship Facebook page under the “Links” tab. During the month of August, members of the Expat Youth Scholarship fan page will be able to vote for their favorites using the “Like” feature.
Voting (aka “Liking”) will end on August 31. The total number of fan “Likes” will determine the top three winners in each age category.
The scholarship entry deadline is Friday, May 13, 2011. For more information about the scholarship and to submit entries, visit www.expatyouthscholarship.com.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS – DEADLINE 15 OCTOBER 2010 – SHORT STORIES ABOUT EXPAT LIFE BY EXPAT WRITERS
Organised by Writers Abroad
National Short Story Week (www.nationalshortstoryweek.org.uk) will take place during the week 22nd – 28th November. In support of the event, Writers Abroad will be publishing an anthology of fictional short stories.
Title: ‘Writers Abroad’
Theme: Fictional Short Stories on any aspect of Expat Life, the pains and the pleasure. Submissions can be based on real life experiences but should be fictionalised.
Contributions: From Expat writers (either currently an Expat or previously an Expat)
Word Count: Anything up to 2,500 words. Submissions can be flash fiction i.e up to 500 words or short stories up to 2,500. Word count does not include the title.
Submission and Entry Rules:
Copyright will remain with the author and the stories will be published in an anthology in a number of formats