Wednesday, December 23, 2009


The AWP Award Series for 2010

The Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) presents their annual competition, the AWP Award Series. All authors are eligible to submit book-length entries, whether published or unpublished. Following are the categories offered.

The Donald Hall Prize for Poetry awards the winner $4,000 and publication. The Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction awards the winner $4,000 and publication. Winners in the AWP Prize for the Novel and AWP Prize for Creative Nonfiction both receive a $2,000 cash honorarium and publication.

Manuscripts must be an original work typed and double-spaced on good quality paper, 8 1/2 x 11 inches. Poetry manuscripts may be single-spaced. Poetry entries must have 48 pages minimum, short story collection and creative nonfiction manuscripts must have 150-300 pages and novel manuscripts must have at least 60,000 words.

There’s an entry fee of $25. You may enter in more than one genre, and you may also enter multiple manuscripts in one genre, provided that each manuscript is accompanied by its own entry form and entry fee.

Final judges for the 2010 Prizes include Peter Ho Davies and Francine Prose.

Check out all the details at the AWP site:

And best of luck to you!

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Monday, September 15, 2008


WOW! Women On Writing Fall 2008 Essay Contest Sponsored by skirt!

WOW! Women On Writing announces the new Fall 2008 Essay Contest, sponsored by skirt! books. We've raised the word count to give you more words to tell a compelling story. We've also put a limit on the number of entries, so be sure to get your submissions in early for inclusion.

Word Count: up to 750 words

Deadline: November 30, 2008
The contest may close early if we reach 300 entries.

Prompt: This season’s prompt is inspired by Jill Butler’s book, Create the Space You Deserve: An Artistic Journey to Expressing Yourself Through Your Home.

Jill offers a favorite quote from Winston Churchill: “We create our dwelling and afterwards our dwellings create us.” Jill believes it runs both ways simultaneously. As we create ourselves, we create our homes, and in the creating of our homes we have the opportunity to recreate ourselves.

In less than 750 words, tell us how recreating your personal space has changed your life, or how by making changes in your life, it has moved you to express yourself and recreate your home. These can be personal stories of love, loss, moving to a new area, or anything that has affected or inspired you to recreate your life and your home.

Guest Judge: Literary Agent, Jennifer DeChiara, of The Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency

Jennifer was the guest judge for last year's Summer 2007 Flash Fiction Contest. We also interviewed Jennifer in WOW!'s November Walking in an Agent's Shoes issue.

Entry Fee: $10 per entry

Entry Fee Plus Critique: $20 per entry. Yes, you heard it right, due to popular demand, we added the critique option once again! We have critiquers ready to go, so it won't hold up the results of this contest.

Limit: 300 entries

Prizes: 35 Winners total!

1st Place: $200 cash prize; skirt! Books Goodie Bag (worth over $50 per goodie bag) including 3 books; entry published on WOW!, a year's subscription to Premium-Green Writer's Markets ($48 value); interview on The Muffin.

2nd Place: $150 cash prize; skirt! Books Goodie Bag (worth over $50 per goodie bag) including 3 books; entry published on WOW!, a year's subscription to Premium-Green Writer's Markets ($48 value); interview on The Muffin.

3rd Place: $100 cash prize; skirt! Books Goodie Bag (worth over $50 per goodie bag) including 3 books; entry published on WOW!, a year's subscription to Premium-Green Writer's Markets ($48 value); interview on The Muffin.

7 Runners Up: skirt! Books Goodie Bag (worth over $50 per goodie bag) including 3 books; entry published on WOW!, a year's subscription to Premium-Green Writer's Markets ($48 value); interview on The Muffin.

25 Honorable Mentions: skirt! Books Goodie Bag (worth over $50 per goodie bag) including 3 books; name, title of story, and city/state published on WOW!

Find out full details by visiting our contest page:

Be sure to download the free ebook of terms & conditions, as well as FAQs on our contest page.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Summer Contest Runner Up--Shannon Schuren

WOW: Shannon, congratulations to you for earning a Runner Up space! How does this make you feel?

Shannon: Thanks so much! I can’t even describe it. When I received the news that I was in the top ten, I screamed so loudly I scared my husband. This is the first contest I’ve placed in, and really the first recognition I’ve received for my writing, so it’s very special for me.

WOW: We’re honored to be part of the excitement! What was the motivation behind "Wilde Women"?

Shannon: The experiences that the sisters share in “Wilde Women” are a mixture of memories I have from different vacations we took when I was a child. I wasn’t really sure where I was going when I began writing. I just had these recollections in my head that I wanted to get on paper. The story grew from there.

WOW: It grew well! In your bio you state that you’re the author of several short stories and two novels. Could you describe these accomplishments?

Shannon: All right, but feel free to stop me if I ramble on too long. I had always wanted to write, and had always kept a file of my dreams, newspaper clippings, and other sparks of ideas that I thought I could develop into interesting novels one day. Well, the file kept getting bigger, and as I was about to turn thirty, I realized that if I kept putting my writing off for “one day,” one day would never arrive. So I sat myself down and wrote a novel titled BEDEVILED GLASS. It’s a paranormal/gothic mystery about an architectural preservationist who is called in to restore an old stained glass ceiling. During the project, she discovers that the ceiling is tied to the previous owner’s disappearance. It took me three years to write, but I learned so much along the way, about writing and about myself. Now, I am in the process of looking for an agent, which has been a whole different learning experience!

I also took part in NaNoWriMo for the first time last year, and successfully completed a middle-grade novel titled How to Host a Ghost. The characters are loosely based on my two daughters, and because they inspired the book, I made the decision to self-publish on, so I could give them a copy as a Christmas gift. It is available for sale at major online bookstores and also at some local retail stores. I’m certainly not getting rich off the sales, but it is rewarding to know that my book is in print and being enjoyed by readers.

Most of the short stories I’ve written were for contests. My own ideas tend to be more geared toward novels, so I wanted to see if I could actually tell a story in less than 80,000 words. This led me to some of the prompt-based online contests, like the Writer’s Weekly 24-hour fiction contest, and the WOW! quarterly contests. I have only entered those contests where I felt like I could do something original with the prompt, so I really owe this success to whoever wrote the summer prompt. Thanks for a job well done!

WOW: You’re very welcome from all of us at WOW! You also mentioned that you spend your spare time working on your next book. Would you like to tell us about it?

I’d love to! I’m currently working on a suspense novel about a woman who is pregnant with her third child and believes that someone is stalking her. However, she suffered from anxiety and depression in her first two pregnancies, so she has trouble convincing people--including herself--that the danger isn’t all in her head.

I tend to be an anxious kind of person, especially when it comes to my children. Writing this book has been a lot of fun because I’ve taken some of my obsessive tendencies and fears and magnified them about 200%.

WOW: You are definitely energetic. You must find encouragement from other books or authors, right?

Shannon: Absolutely. I love authors. I go to book signings the way some people go to rock concerts. I’ve gotten to meet Lisa Scottoline, Janet Evanovich and Michael Perry in person (though not at the same time!). They were all fabulous and inspiring, although my meeting with Lisa was my favorite; it was a small gathering, and she actually gave me some personal encouragement about writing. I also love to go to other authors’ websites. I have no idea why, but I find it endlessly fascinating to read about each of their unique writing processes. Some of my favorites are,,, and Often, when I’m experiencing writer’s block, I get online and peruse their websites for some little bits of wisdom.

WOW: I’ll have to try that some time. Good advice. Do you have any other goals for your writing career?

Shannon: Just the usual. Find an agent, get published, make enough money so I can retire and write full time and hire a maid! Honestly, right now I’m just happy to be writing, and very grateful for my husband, children, and friends who are so supportive of my literary endeavors. And, of course, to WOW! for giving me the opportunity to have my first story and first interview published online. Thanks, WOW!

WOW: That’s sweet! In addition to the authors you’ve listed above, do you care to recommend any craft books on writing?

Shannon: I highly recommend Writing the Breakout Novel by literary agent, Donald Maas. I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in one of his workshops this past spring, and it was the most intense, insightful, and useful workshop I’ve ever attended. I came home with thirty-seven pages of handwritten notes for my current novel!

WOW: That’s fabulous! Could you end on some writerly wisdom?

If you have the desire to write, then write. Don’t make it a “one day” activity. Don’t worry that it won’t be any good, or that no one will want to read it.

For those who would like to write a novel but don’t feel you have the time or willpower or imagination, consider taking part in NaNoWriMo this November. It’s exhilarating to attempt to write a novel in 30 days, and it really pushes your creativity and imagination to the next level. At least it did for me. Plus, if you finish, you get a cool icon you can download and add to your email signature! You can find more information at their website:

Thanks, Shannon. You're an inspiration. I think I'll get right to my writing!

Readers, please check out her winning entry here.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Spring 2007 Contest--Runner Up!

WOW: Renise, congratulatory hugs to you for placing as one of our Runners Up! How do you feel?

Renise: I’m still getting over the shock of having my first flash fiction story published. I love going to the WOW! site and seeing my work alongside women whose writing I truly respect-- it’s a very humbling experience.

WOW: Thanks for the compliment. We're glad it's a positive shock. Could you tell us a little about your story and what encouraged the idea behind “Thanks for Ruining My Dinner”? Was there anything from real life that played a part in your story’s creation?

Renise: The title was inspired by my Mom who never hesitates to speak her mind. When I give her news she doesn’t agree with, especially news about a new boyfriend or other interest, she adamantly states “thanks for ruining my dinner.” I’ve yet to figure out how serious she really is about this proclamation.

WOW (laughs): Maybe after she reads this interview, she’ll give you an answer! Could you tell us a little about yourself and what fascinates you?

Renise: I am fascinated by human experiences of all sorts and find people watching to be the best way to pass time as a result. My most memorable experience observing others came when I was studying the Negritude literature movement in Paris. I was unfamiliar with the language so the only connection I had to those around me was to observe their mannerisms and try to connect on the most basic levels.

WOW: That does sound enlightening, even on those basic levels. Have you found enlightenment or inspiration from other books or authors you could recommend?

Renise: Recently, Steven Pressfield’s War of Art has had the biggest impact on me, but I’ve fallen in love with the powerful African American characters of Pearl Cleage; the life she breathes into her characters is immaculate.

WOW: Yes, I think it’s fair to say that many readers have fallen in love with her work. In fact, one of her books, What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day was an Oprah Book Club pick and it also spent nine weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. She surely meets her goals. What about you, do you have any specific long-term goals for your writing career?

Renise: My long term goal is to open a publishing house for African American writers telling the stories of people and places that would otherwise go unheard of. In the meantime I am focused on building Young Savvy, a lifestyle redesign company devoted to motivating young adults to create the life they dream of living in spite of resistance and barriers.

WOW: That’s a goal worth sweating over. Could you share other goals related to your writing? Out of the other works you’ve written, could you describe your favorite one or more in a little detail?

Renise: Unlike “Thanks For Ruining My Dinner,” I write a lot of serious stories based on my life. Although it’s very emotional, I’m currently developing a piece dedicated to my Granny who recently passed from Carcinoid Cancer. I want people to read it and recognize the value in taking a break from their daily grind when personal tragedy hits.

WOW: That’s a valuable point to make. Sharing something so personal always benefits others. You’ve already answered my next question about the areas or genres in which you prefer to write. Do you want to add anything here?

Renise: Like many writers, I started out simply writing in my journal. Removed from the pains of judgment my journal has always been a sacred space for creation, release, and meditation so that is the kind of writing that will always remain dearest to my heart.

WOW: How true. A writer’s journal is sacred. Sometimes, when I’m lacking motivation, I reread certain parts in mine. It usually helps me get moving again. Could you end on some motivating words for our audience?

Renise: Too often people get stuck thinking that they want to become a writer. If you write then you are already a writer, you just need to let the world know and continue perfecting your craft.

WOW: Well said, again. You’ve made many solid points and thoughtful comments. Thanks, Renise, for taking the time to respond to my questions and for sharing a part of yourself with our readers. Good luck to you, your writing, and your project, Young Savvy. Oh, and good luck to your mother. Since she “never hesitates to speak her mind,” I imagine you might not hesitate, either. ;-)

Well, there you have it, ladies, another success story. Go check out Young Savvy! I just checked--she has a new site!

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Monday, August 13, 2007


One Writer’s Tap Dance

Eight nimble fingertips strike and click across a black keyboard like tap dancers gracing a stage. My right thumb directs dramatic pauses between steps; my other one hovers in mid air for team balance. Everyone synchronizes in swift form, gliding and tapping to a silent rhythm from my writer’s mind and heart’s pulse. I drill them ever onward, without rest stops or stretch breaks, until I see completion of the basic form. Awkward maneuvers wait for repairs following our first dry run. We ignore aches, sores, and missteps through the first draft of our dance. Once our rehearsal records onto the white screen, I allow time to rest and revise.

My tap dance requires additional hardware from a computer and monitor. Without them, I couldn’t create my work in due time. I’d have to revert back to pen and paper, and that would feel like the dance of death.

The light that radiates from the monitor illuminates my mind, and yet it almost blinds me after long hours of intense focus. Over time I squint to create. But the bright light provides the white-yang backdrop for my dance on the black-yin stage. They coincide.

At front-and-center stage I sit in my choreographer’s chair where dance sounds echo off the ceiling and nearby walls. Their melodic milieu maintain pace with my moods and feelings. I avoid negative ones like anger and disgust, as they ignite irregular fiery forms from fierce taps that could please no one. Likewise, fear and sadness stifle my dancers’ abilities to execute completely smooth moves. Of course, my most talented productions blossom during upbeat emotions. Affection and delight spark professional soft shoes. Feelings of pride further pump up my tappers for our most excellent performances, even when the work involves ad lib.

Following a sound night’s sleep, I call back my dancers for another session. We work under a creative process contract, which involves numerous practice-to-polish sessions. With mental notes as well as scribbled ones, I instruct new key taps in certain places, a few deletions in other spots, or revised sequences to replace any rough patches. We work toward a natural flow of motions and tempo.

All the hard work bestows wings to my smile as I approach the end of our composition. Overall, I trust my dancers’ skills and my creative mind to weave and flow the sequences together like an English Shuffle. Once we practice and revise several times, I deem our work prepared for public scrutiny.

At times I print my dance as black-yin art on white-yang paper to send it by post. Other times, however, my work crosses over the electronic freeway. Either way it endures evaluations before finding its top theater.

At the end of my final production I hear applause.

“Tappers,” I say, “take a bow and stretch, you’ve danced well today!”

I’m grateful for my fingers’ grace; they serve me well, unlike my two gorilla feet.


I once submitted this essay to a descriptive competition that centered on any of the arts. I didn’t win or place in the contest, but I still like my piece. I revise it from time to time, hopefully making it better.

How would you write a 500-word descriptive essay regarding writing? Weave your own tapestry and, if no contests apply, consider posting it on our Blog. It makes for great writing practice!

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007



Mandy Vicsai's story, "Strange Doin's" was a natural for First Place. She had such a unique and well-rounded take on our prompt that we weren't surprised when our Guest Judge Teresa proclaimed her 1st. In this interview, Mandy lends insight and honor to her real-life story character Al Boothby, and shares her smart advice to future contestants. This is an interview not to miss!

WOW: Mandy, how does winning First Place feel?

Mandy: I'm still pinching myself. Winning First Place feels amazing! It's almost surreal. I've read through the other entries and they're awesome! There are some very clever storylines, so I'm truly honoured to have been awarded First Place.

For me it was a timely appreciation of my writing style. I recently entered a few chapters of my first novel in a mentoring award. The feedback was less than encouraging and I had been struggling to see the point of finishing my book. It's easy to say logically that any reviewer is only human with likes and dislikes, yet negative criticism (as opposed to constructive criticism) always stings. That's one of the reasons I love your work. You appreciate writers as people as well as artists.

WOW: Thank you Mandy. That means a lot to us. As writers we've all been there, through the good and the bad; but you mentioned something that I truly believe in -- the 'art' of writing. (Yes, there is such a thing!) We believe in encouragement for our peers, because having a positive platform to meet our writing goals, as well as hard content, is what we're all about. And you, of all people, should never doubt yourself. Please finish that book! We can't wait to read it.

Your story about your California Father-in-law, Al Boothby, touched us deeply. He sounds like such an interesting man! Can you tell us some details about him that your story left out?

Mandy: Al was primarily a teacher. He had an aura about him that made you want to listen to what he had to say. He rarely had a bad word to say about anyone and looked for the good in the world. He not only believed in basic human values, he lived them and even better, he inspired others to live them. He was married to Mary for over fifty years and they had six children; one of whom I was lucky enough to meet and marry.

Al was extremely intelligent and did many things during his life. He designed airfields for the state of California, drew cartoons for The Sacramento Bee, designed houses, was a fireman and a radar instructor in the Army Air Corp and taught high school art and woodwork. In his later years, he mastered his Apple Mac and spent hours browsing on-line and emailing his family. Over 200 people attended his funeral; that in itself is an amazing accomplishment.

WOW: That is amazing... In fact, everything about Al sounds amazing. I think you've really shown him in a wonderful light. He sounds like a person I would love to know. Can you tell us what Al loved about squirrels?

Mandy: I think he loved that squirrels chose to be a part of his world. Okay, perhaps they were just after the nuts he left on the window ledge. Still, watching the little guys eat and drink the buffet he left them each day gave him a real buzz. (Except for the time that they moved into the roof!)

WOW: (laughing) I can imagine!

You know, I'm an avid fan of interesting conspiracy theories... they seem to make for good story plots. What were some of Al's favorites? And what was his political story, Strange Doin's about?

Mandy: Al had firm beliefs that there was a right way to treat people and a wrong way to treat people. His conspiracy theories related to how money can create power that in turn can generate a corruption that transcends generations. He believed that the seeds of today's fearful and divisive culture were sewn during the early 1900's. I would say more... but they're watching... always watching...

WOW: (laughs) Well put! Yes... we should move on to the next question before suspicion arises...

In your bio, you said that you do promotional copy for a living; but from what we can see, or read anyway, you have the gift of story-telling. When did you start writing, and how did you get into copywriting?

Mandy: My mother tells me that on my first day of school, I came home in tears because I couldn't yet read and write. I was five when I started devouring books and probably even making up stories then. My earliest memory of knowing I really enjoyed writing and starting to learn it as a craft was when I was nine. I remember writing a story that my teacher just didn't 'get.' I had a scene where the main character remembered some action and I wrote it as a flashback. My teacher told me I couldn't make a story go back in time. That was my first lesson in choosing what criticisms to take on board and what to discard.

As a child I always wrote. If I had a spare five minutes I'd write a poem. I'd amaze my friends by making rhyming poems out of conversations we'd had or immortalising those heartbreak moments from high school. It was fun and writing came easy for me. Then came the real world. I actually studied science at University because I believed that if I wrote as a job it would kill my passion for it. I wasn't a very good scientist and went back to study Public Relations. From then on, every job I had involved writing of some kind.

When we moved to Melbourne two years ago, I made the decision to start copywriting. My real aim at the time was to become a full-time writer and to finish a novel that I'd started years ago. Some of the most well-known writers started out as advertising copywriters, so I thought it might be a good way to gain credibility in literary circles. I've got to say that since I started writing as a job, my passion for it has increased. And it's not simply that I'm honing my craft, it's that other people see me as a writer which in turn reinforces that point to me (particularly on days when the words aren't flowing). Working for myself also gives me the flexibility to set my own hours. I've been able to join a local writers group and am continually inspired by their stories - both real and imagined.

WOW: Writers groups fuel the fire and spark creativity, as do contests, online critiques, and forums. Do you enter many writing competitions?

Mandy: To date I haven't entered many competitions and I've had mixed success with the ones I've entered over the years. Often life seems to intrude and claim the space and energy that could be given to writing. Now I've reached a point in my life where writing is my number one professional priority. I've got a fantastic group of supportive friends and reviewers whose opinions and suggestions I highly respect. So this year, I've made a list of all the competitions I want to enter. I've tried to mix them up a bit. The word counts range from 56 words to 5,000. Entering competitions gives me a real motivation to write - especially since I always have lots to say. I find I look at the world differently when I'm looking for a storyline. I'm more observant, more curious. Competitions also provide a natural a deadline. There's nothing like the pressure of a due date to make a story reveal itself.

WOW: I agree. I think it's the structure and word count that provides a challenge that otherwise we writers wouldn't take on by ourselves. You said that you look at the world differently when you're looking for a storyline. So, can you tell us, who are your favorite authors?

Mandy: Two books that I'll never forget are ones I read in high school. "In Search of Anna" by Esben Storm and "A Candle for St Antony" by Eleanor Spence. Both are Australian stories, which is actually strange because I read more American books growing up than Australian ones. You know, I generally forget the authors of books - unless they're really well known. I'm going to have to start remembering more of them because it's a question people often seem to ask. I love books that make me laugh out loud. Though most recently I've read Tim Winton who is an acclaimed Australian author and Jodi Picoult's "The Tenth Circle". Sometimes I go to the library looking for a particular book. Most times though, I cruise down the shelves, looking for titles and spines that catch my eye or my imagination. I like the mystery of picking books that way.

WOW: I love books that make me laugh as well! It always comes as such a surprise when a book suddenly makes me laugh out loud.

In your bio you'd mentioned that you enjoyed sailing on other people's yachts! That made me laugh when I read it. Can you tell us about that?

Mandy: If you're going to sail, on OPBs (other people's boats) is the only way to go. Keeping a yacht in a seaworthy state can be quite a challenge to your finances. My husband and I are part of a crew of eight who race on a 40ft boat. We were meant to do an ocean race just after Christmas. The day before we competed in a race around Port Phillip Bay and unfortunately got crunched amid three other boats on the start line. The boat we sail on 'cracked a rib' which is an internal structural support and bent a metal plate that sits over the bow (the pointy end). We were lucky. The boat in front of us got a hole through its hull! Yep. An expensive day out. The insurance companies will be arguing over those claims for a while.

Sailing is a great social sport. In fact, my husband and I met at a sailing school in Sydney where we were both learning how to sail. If you're going to sail, Sydney's one of the best places in the world - you can sail every day! And if you do it on someone else's boat, it's free! Melbourne is at the edge of Port Phillip Bay and around our part there are three yacht clubs in close proximity and in summer, races every weekend. In the summer months we also have daylight saving which means it doesn't get dark until later - meaning you can race on Wednesday and Thursday evenings too!

WOW: (laughs) OPB's... I'll have to hit you up if I'm ever in Australia!

Mandy, this has been so much fun, and you are such a delight! Can you tell us how the whole experience of the WOW! Fall 2006 Flash Fiction Contest has been for you?

Mandy: You know, this story was a challenge for me to write. I couldn't decide whether you'd accept a story where the pom pom was from a beanie and not a cheerleading pom pom. In Australia, we have many, many sports and only one code of football (we have four different types of football) has cheerleading squads. Once I'd gotten over the whole beanie / cheerleader dilemma, I really enjoyed the challenge of creating a story. I love short, short stories. I write my first draft and it's usually twice the allowable limit. Then comes the fun part of paring back every non-essential word. So thank you for having a challenging length.

I also love the way you communicate with your writers. You really appreciate the time and effort that everyone puts into their entries. It's a pleasure to read your emails and your website.

WOW: Thank you. Both Beryl and I have been there, so we know what a challenge it is from the opposite end. Often contestants are left out of the loop, so we try to maintain good contact. Although, we have to say, we are definitely not perfect! Most of the time things take longer than expected, and there's so much more organization going on than anticipated... but we try our best. We appreciate each one of you and sincerely enjoy chatting with you all.

Do you have any advice for writers who want to enter a contest?

Mandy: Go for it! Okay, that's too simplistic because there's more to it than that. Here's my advice:

First of all, unlike a computer manual, you really do need to read the competition rules. Read them and follow them. You don't want to go to all the effort of writing a fantastic story only to be disqualified on a technicality.

Word counts are included as part of the writing challenge so make sure you keep within them. If you've got too many words, read through your story and continually ask yourself, "Does this add anything to the story?", "Do I need this for my story to make sense?" If the answer to either question is "No", save your draft as it is, take out the words you've decided are unnecessary and then save your work as a new draft. That way if you want to go back to something you've deleted, it will be waiting for you.

Write from your heart and write about something you know or something that is meaningful to you. Readers relate to stories and people that speak their language so you really don't need big words. Rather than write a term paper, simply tell your story.

Aim to write and rewrite your story until you're completely happy with it. That may mean two drafts, it may mean twenty. Honour your talent by listening to the inner voice that tells you when a word is not quite right or when a phrase or paragraph needs to be rewritten.

Ask someone you trust to read your work. Choose your reviewers carefully. You want someone who will be tactfully honest. That means, they'll tell you what they think without being discouraging. Remember, it's your story, you don't have to make the changes they suggest. Still, if you trust them, think over their ideas before discarding them. Sometimes the things we hate hearing the most are the very comments we need to hear.

I read somewhere that if you enjoy writing your story, readers will enjoy reading it. So have some fun. This is your opportunity to re-invent yourself - or anyone else for that matter.

Know that your writing career and talent, don't hinge on whether or not you win any individual contest or award. Just because one judge preferred someone else's writing style or story over yours does not make you a bad writer. Think of all the books you've read, or started to read, that you haven't enjoyed. Those writers were published. You can be too!

Celebrate! Celebrate the fact that you've written a story. Celebrate the fact that you've entered a competition. Celebrate any feedback that makes you a better writer. And definitely celebrate when you win!

WOW: Well put!

If you haven't read Mandy's entry yet, check it out here:

Thank you Mandy for a fabulous interview!

WOW! readers: Coming soon -- Mandy shares her secrets about How To cut a contest entry down to size! Learn how to meet that word count without giving up your story. STAY TUNED

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