It’s Official, I’m Published!

I’m so excited to announce my short story ZOMBIE KIBOSH CREW is published in the UNDEAD TALES 2 anthology. Ivy, identical
twins Dima and Vitaly, and Cherie venture into a zombie infested St. Louis to rescue survivors. It’s Ivy’s first time returning to her hometown since Z-day. Can she overcome the emotional turmoil it triggers? Or will she suffer a breakdown that will cost lives?

Zombies are real. Don’t believe me, check out this post by Laura Diamond, board certified psychiatrist, blogger, author. This post freaked me out! You should read it too, so we can all be disturbed together.

UNDEAD TALES 2 is available for only $3.99 in the Kindle version or print on (please click over and “LIKE” it to show your support), on Smashwords in a variety of formats, and through createspace in print format. I’ll post an update when the Barnes & Noble version is available.

While you’re out in cyberspace, check out Laura’s short story CITY OF LIGHT AND STONE  in the DAY OF DEMON anthology.

Related Post

Contest Ready?

Ever feel like the bio section at the bottom of your query letter looks a little skimpy? How about the “About” page on your blog, Facebook profile, Twitter profile, etc? For unpublished authors, winning writing contests is a one way to build a writer’s bio.  Word count limitations which challengers writers to keep the ‘short” in short story helps hone skills. Having deadlines provides motivation to complete work in a timely manner. Plus, writers get exposure of their work, and based on which contests entered, that attention could come from publishers or agents.

Here are my tips on increasing your chances of winning:

  • Check and double-check the contest guidelines to make sure your entry fits within the theme, word count, format guidelines. Don’t give the judges a reason to disqualify your entry.
  • Vanquish every typo, grammar, and spelling error from your story. It might not help you win, but a polished  entry can’t hurt either.
  • As with manuscripts, a great hook will draw the judge in. The writer’s job is to make their entry stand out above all others.
  • Unlike with poetry, short stories cannot get away with “Untitled”. Give a lot of consideration to the title for your entry. It tells the judge what to expect. For example, I recently entered my YA short story “Zombie Kibosh Crew” in the OWFI 2012 contest. The story genre is right there in the title and it helped me eliminate backstory. With a 1,200 word limit, cutting words was vital.
  • Stay focused on one point of view. Trying to work in multiple POVs can muddled the entry, may bump you over the contest word count limit, and might confuse the judge.
  • Only enter your best work, especially for fee-based contest. Otherwise, you’re just throwing away your money.
  • Don’t give up!

After you’ve researched which contest are right for you, all that’s left is mustering the courage to enter. One popular contest is the Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. This fee-based contest gains winners publication, potential exposure to editors and agents, and recognition on the Writer’s Digest website. Writer’s Relief List of Writing Contest offer information on contest for creative writers. This site also offers links to anthologies open to submissions, for those chose that route. One of my critique partners recently wrote a post on ongoing contest (here).

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Do you have any writing competition tips? Do you have suggestions for finding other contests?

Keeping the Short in Short Story

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Ever sit down with the intent to write a short story only to have it turn into a novella? Or even a full-blown novel? In my recent preparation for the OWFI 2012 conference contest, I re-discovered how difficult it is to keep the ‘short’ in short story. This year, I wrote a piece for the young adult short story category which had a limit of 1,200 words. Eeek!

My characters wanted me to write a story slightly outside my genre, they demanded a novel length story (which they deserve at a later time), and they had no desire to live confined within the contest guidelines. I knew going into it, they were going to be unruly. Usually when I write, I’m not concerned about word count.

In order to keep it short, I had to change my mindset. Here’s what worked for me:

  • Let the story title work for you. Choose something creative and short that fits the genre of the short story. For tips on attention grabbing titles, check out this article.
  • Strong, fleshed out characters help hook a readers’ interest. Character development is important, because even though your characters are part of a short story, they deserve full attention.
  • Don’t let backstory side track you, no matter how tempting or interesting. There’s no room for it in short fiction.
  • Stay focused on one plot, one event. The more linear time you try to cover in a story, the more complicated the story becomes which may increase word count. This one might not apply to short stories with a word count above 1,200.
  • Limit the number of characters, for the same reason listed above. More characters equal a more complicated story equals more words.
  • The story must have a complete story arc, no matter how limited the word count. The story must have a beginning, middle and end. Lesann Berry, one of my fellow campaign bloggers, recently wrote a post on story structure.
  • Make sure every word belongs. This applies to all fiction. Vanquish weak words.
  • Every item (backpack, gun, frying pan, etc.) you mention should add value to the story somehow or reveal something about your character. For example, if your character uses a frying pan as a weapon in addition to a cooking utensil, it demonstrates that the character is practical and resourceful. Also, if the character doesn’t aim, shoot, and/or threaten someone with the gun by the end of the story, the reader may not need to know about the weapon.

Do you write short stories? What technique works for you?