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 All authors are eligible to submit book-length entries, whether published or unpublished.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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Friday, December 04, 2009


Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest Deadline: Dec 31st

Have you checked out the Dream Quest One Poetry and Writing Contest?

Deadline for both contests: December 31, 2009

Writing Contest: entries may be written on a maximum of 5 pages, either neatly handwritten or typed, single or double spacing, on any subject or theme.

Entry fee: $10

Prizes: 1st Place $500; 2nd $250; 3rd $100.


Poetry Contest: entries may be written on any subject or theme. All poems must be 30 lines or fewer and either neatly handwritten or typed, single or double line spacing.

Entry fee: $5

Prizes: 1st Place $250; 2nd $125; 3rd $50.


Nice cash prizes! Entries may be submitted either by postal mail or electronically. Full guidelines are available here: Good luck!

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Saturday, June 13, 2009



I received this press release the other day and thought I would pass it along to you ladies. This is a new book series by Rand Publishing inspired by Twitter and Manga--interesting concept! It's free to enter the contest, and the winner not only wins a cash prize, but the opportunity to join the publishing team as a permanent writer. Enjoy!


“What job cuts?” asks Katie Rose Hope, CEO of RAND Publishing. “We’re actually hiring. We are looking for writers who can assist with our rapidly growing
The Skinny On™ book series and so we have created a contest to attract writers.”

The Skinny On™ book series now has four books in print and is moving quickly, adding a title every month or so. The four books now available are The Skinny on Credit Cards, The Skinny on The Housing Crisis, The Skinny on Willpower and The Skinny on Real Estate Investing. Books in the works include “skinnies” on income taxes, online dating, entrepreneurship and insurance.

The Skinny On™ books are unique in length, format and content. Modeled after the highly popular Japanese literary form Manga, these books are illustrated with story-line, dialogue, a moderator and humor. With changing font sizes, bold and italicized print and lots of white space these books can be read in about an hour or so. What is extraordinary, however, and why The Skinny On™ series is gaining universal acclaim among educators, journalists, bloggers and reviewers is the conciseness and precision of the delivery of content.

The Skinny On™ books are a synthesis of all that has been written and studied on a particular subject. The reader walks away with a general understanding of sometimes confusing and difficult topics. For those who want more information, there are bibliographies and suggestions for further reading.

Because of the growing popularity of the series, The Skinny On™ has six new books in production with the goal of 25 – 35 books within 12 months. “We are thrilled with the response we are getting,” says Hope. “We plan on being a major player in the production of substantive but easy-to-understand content. We work very hard at making it all flow so easily.”

Continues Hope, “It may be unconventional to utilize a contest as a means of hiring, but we don’t aim to be a conventional publishing company after all! We’re rapidly expanding our team because that’s what these books are all about: quick production, quick information, and most of all, quick reads.”

Contest Details:

Contest participants are to submit a ten-page sample which mimics The Skinny On™ book series’ simple and comical style of exploring a topic and educating characters Billy and Beth, as told through their point of view. Winner will receive a $1,000 prize and may have the opportunity to join The Skinny On™ writing team permanently. Participants can view sample writing and learn the books’ style at

Deadline: July 2nd at 5:00 PM EST. The winner will be announced on Friday July 17th.

Submit: Send submissions to Mike Cassidy at

Good luck!

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Monday, April 13, 2009


Update On WOW! Winter '09 Flash Fiction Contest

Hi Ladies,

I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend!

As some of you know, we already sent out First Round notifications for the Winter '09 Flash Fiction contest on March 29th. If you received an email, you know that we will be announcing the final results of the contest in the May issue of WOW! Women On Writing (feature article).

We've received confirmation from our guest judge of the season, literary agent Janet Reid, and will be sending out Top 10 announcements later this week! If you receive an email, please get your bio and head-and-shoulders photo (.jpg) ready to go. :)

We will also try to send out an announcement to the Honorable Mentions as well, if time permits. It should be later in the week.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them here.

Best of luck!

Team WOW!

Please visit our contest page for our latest quarterly flash fiction contest. Deadline: May 31, 2009, or when 300 stories are submitted.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Interview with Linda Rhinehart Neas, 3rd Place Essay Contest Winner

Linda Rhinehart Neas self published her first written work at the age of seven on the cardboard she gathered from her Dad's shirts after they came back from the laundry. Since then, she has written extensively in various venues. Her work has been published and performed throughout New England. Gaining inspiration from her four daughters and three granddaughters, she has calculated that she will run dry of ideas for writing sometime in the next millennium. Her first full collection of poems, Winter of the Soul, was published in 2008. Next to writing, teaching is her second passion. Presently, she is working on her second book of poetry, essays and memoirs on teaching and two children’s books.

Linda lives in an enchanted cottage surrounded by trees, bushes and perennials which she and her beloved, Roger, planted. Their dog Molly keeps track of all the other critters who call the enchanted cottage home.

Linda won 3rd Place in the Fall Personal Essay Contest sponsored by skirt! books, with a prompt by Jill Butler, for her story Enchanted Cottage. If you haven't done so already, read her story and come back for the interview!

Interview by Debbie Delgado

WOW: Welcome, Linda, to The Muffin, and congratulations on winning 3rd place in the Fall Essay Contest. What was your favorite part of writing this essay?

Linda: My favorite part was the challenge to include the quote into the story. Interestingly, it was not difficult to do this…it just seemed to fall into being. I was in the middle of writing the essay and suddenly there was the place for the quote. It made me very happy.

WOW: That's great when things fall into place. I love how you incorporated the quote with something Momma might have said. She sounds like quite the inspiration! Did she have favorite poets that influenced you in becoming a poet yourself?

Linda: Yes! She loved all types of poetry, reading everything to me from Robert Frost to Rumi to Edna St. Vincent Millay to Emily Dickinson. She never thought about whether something was too mature for me or if it was "appropriate" as they say today. If she found something in a poem that resonated with her, she shared it with me.

One of our favorite poems was Robert Service's "The Cremation of Sam McGee." It is a story poem of how a gold miner helps fulfill his dying friend's last request for cremation. For whatever reason, I thought it was the funniest thing I had ever heard…perhaps it was the way my mother delivered it, or maybe it was simply the funny pictures it created in my mind.

I fell in love with Dickinson and Frost the first time I heard their work. The sound of the poems, the rhythm of the verses touched something within me. I wrote my first poem at the tender age of 10. The local librarian liked it so much; she submitted it to the Horn Book Club for a contest. At that moment, in spite The Horn Book Club not publishing the poem, I knew I was a poet.

WOW: Congratulations on publishing your first full collection of poems in Winter of the Soul. Please tell us a little more about it!

Linda: Winter of the Soul is a semi-biographical journey through the various phases of love and life. It is a collection of poems written over the past thirty years. I was inspired to put it together after giving spontaneous readings to friends who liked my writing. They kept asking about when I was going to publish my work.

My Mom was failing in health and I wanted to be able to honor her and my Dad with a book of poems, evidence that their daughter was a true poet. I am not sure how much of it she was able to read, but she had a copy which she kept by her bed. I know it made her very proud.

WOW: What a wonderful gift to her. We understand you are working on another collection of poetry in addition to more essays and children's book. When you sit down to write, how do you decided which project to focus on at that particular time?

Linda: Good question! It sometimes depends on inspiration and sometimes depends on timelines. The children's books I have been working on for over a year. The idea for both of them came within days of each other. Rather than lose the ideas for them, I started writing outlines immediately. The text for one is almost complete. The other book needs more research done before I can actually start writing it. I add to the poetry/essay book weekly.

Writing is my passion. I am creating something every day, whether it is articles for my church newsletter or emails to my four daughters, I am constantly writing. As soon as I complete one project, I begin another. I cannot imagine a day without writing.

WOW: That's fantastic that you write every day--you must have a great space to write in. If someone asked you how to create a personal space that would really inspire them, where would you tell them to begin?

Linda: First, it is important to have a space that is their own, where they can be alone, if they so choose. Some place where they can safely keep the tools they need to create ready for them to use as well as their work. Then, if possible, they should have a view outside. Nature is so inspirational, so healing. Finally, for further inspiration, they should include pictures of their loved ones, or photos of beautiful places, which they feel a connection to and a shelf for books, which bring them to a place that reminds them of why they love to write.

John McPhee, Steven King, and Anne Lamont all have written that in order to write well, one must read extensively. Having your favorite books within arm’s reach is so important, I think.

WOW: Do you have any writing rituals?

Linda: Hmmm. This is the first time I have ever had anyone ask me this.

Yes, I do. When I sit down at my little desk wedged into the western corner of my home, I look out into my mediation garden. I mediate on the prayer flags moving gently in the breeze, notice which birds are visiting the feeder, and listen to the many wind chimes hanging in strategic places, each with its own harmonizing tone.

After a few minutes, I begin to type out whatever I feel inspired to write. If I come to a place where I feel stuck, I stop and mediate, looking out the window. Almost always, the muse whispers in my ear and I am off again into the poem, story, or essay I am working on. It's magic!

WOW: That sounds peaceful. Lastly, do you have any advice for those just getting started in their own writing adventures?

Linda: Write, daily! The more you practice your craft, the better it becomes. Keep a journal, a diary, a blog, whatever works for that particular writer. Do not give up. Keep writing even if editors do not publish your work, even if you get the worst critique imaginable. Learn to take constructive criticism; do not take other criticism personally. Rejection does not mean you are not a good writer. It simply means that that particular venue did not publish your work. Find someone you trust…someone who can impartially look at your work and give you good feedback. Above all, believe in yourself and listen to your heart, muse, guides or whatever form your inspiration takes. Finally, write, read, and write some more.

WOW: Thank you Linda for taking the time to chat with us today! Your tips are certainly inspiring.

Find out more about Linda by visiting her blog, and her website,

The Spring '09 Flash Fiction Contest is Open, with guest judge literary agent Wendy Sherman. Deadline: May 31, 2009.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008




Spirited Woman is an ever-growing community that is a place for women to connect their passion to the rest of the world. It's all about creative fun for inspired women. In the spirit of that connecting, founder Nancy Mills launched the Spirited Woman Circle, a lively, inspiring series of 1-hour phone "telechats" with famous women authors & media personalities. Nancy's got a knack for drawing in bestselling authors to her series (she's a writer herself and many of the authors are her friends). In the past such phenomenal talents as Fannie Flagg and Janet Fitch have participated, plus dozens more. The chats are a great opportunity to participate in up close and personal conversations with authors you'd probably never get a chance to talk to. This year's line-up is fantastic. To learn more about the 2008 series visit:

FOR 3 LUCKY WOW READERS: Nancy is offering FREE REGISTRATION (a $99 value) to the entire 8-part series starting March 4th. For a chance to become one of the three lucky winners,�enter the contest and tell Nancy why you are the most "spirited woman" writer in the entire country. For instance, do you write from a tent? Are you unbelievably passionate about your craft? Do you perform your words?

JUST SOME SIMPLE CONTEST RULES: Submit (500 words or less) to: NancyMills[at]thespiritedwoman[dot]com by 2/25/08. Please put "WOW CONTEST" in the subject line. Winners will be chosen by 2/29/08. In your e-mail submission BE SURE to include your name & phone # with area code. One submission allowed per person. Permission is granted to publish the winning answers and to be put on the Spirited Woman mailing list.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007


Interview with Daniella Barsotti – Summer Contest Runner Up!

WOW: Daniella, congratulations! You must have felt great when you learned the results.

I was happy to be a runner up. I hadn't written in a while and I thought contests were a great way to "get back into it" so it meant a great deal do so well.

WOW: I bet it did! So, tell us what encouraged you to write "Sea Breeze Revisited."

Daniella: I instantly thought about the best vacations of my childhood and now that everyone in our family lives in the same province it was easy to remember those good times I had with my cousins and my sister. I am very influenced by my childhood in Trinidad and Tobago. It shows up in almost everything I write. Sea Breeze was the name of a house in Toco in North Trinidad. My Uncle and Aunt rented a house there for something like a month and invited the cousins to come up for a couple weeks at a time. I remember loving being there with no TV and just a few music tapes and just loving being by the beach every day. My teenage cousin and I, who are nine months apart, talked about everything from boys to movie stars to skin care tips. We were on the beach sun up to sunset and everything about being there is fresh in my mind. I can taste the food, I remember the people and a lot of what is in the story is true--and yes, Ralphie could move a huge rock with his bare foot! If I had to re-live a vacation it would not be the one to Disney or to New York or Barbados--it would be to Sea Breeze because it was just pure simple fun. Bugs and lizards and all. It was good clean childhood fun. Childhood is getting shorter and shorter and I like to reflect on mine because it was an easier, happier time for sure.

WOW: That sounds quite memorable! In your bio you mentioned many points that help you with your writing. I’ll begin with “the culture and natural beauty of [your] native Trinidad and Tobago”; how does the culture and land inspire you?

I think the lush beauty of Trinidad, the different ethnicities, religions, cuisine, music and of course Carnival all blend together to make me realize that I came from a small island with so much to offer. There is a relaxed nature about Trinidadians and Tobagonians that bring a calming sensation to people whenever you meet them and no problem is ever a problem. Whenever I need to re-focus my life I take a trip home if I can and I return refreshed and ready to take on North American life again. The culture of Trinidad and the scenery is always alive in my mind and whether it is a story for a kid’s magazine, romance writing, fiction or nonfiction, I can pull anything from my memories of home and come up with something to write about.

WOW: Sounds like an abundant resource to tap into for your writing! You mention, also, that your “biggest inspiration” comes from your family, especially your autistic child. How has your child made you a “much better person,” and how does this feed into your writing?

Daniella: When my son was diagnosed I think I spent a long period of his early years in a place of grief. I was not the person I used to be and, in fact, I had become a pretty rotten person. Then as life always does, something happens and you can either go down the toilet or you can rise above it and go to a better place. Therapy after therapy was not working for him and then we found the Son Rise Program in the US and I changed. When I returned home after the first conference, I was able to let the not so good parts of myself go and turn my family around and got us all to a better place and our son responded so well to the new methods I had learned. He has achieved so much in such a short time that sometimes I forget he has autism.

I decided to write something positive about autism because there are so many books out there that are so clinical or so sad that I hardly finished any of the ones I'd read. Since Adam's great turn around we decided to move from out west to be closer to family. We made some big changes--sold our house, quit jobs, and packed the moving truck and drove across the country in an RV. There is something about a family in a small space with just each other for a whole week. We made several stops and saw quite a bit of the country and the kids got closer, our autistic kid spoke more, and we just enjoyed being alone after all the years of therapists in and out of the house, and the team meetings, the individual program plans, and all the intrusion that comes with autism--we were alone to just enjoy being a family.

When I look at my son and my entire family, for that matter, I realize that in life everybody gets something and you can either go with it or let it crumble you. Looking at my autistic kid and how hard he works sometimes at the simple things in life inspires me to be a better person. I see so much beauty in him and what he does and sometimes the way he does things are so interesting and unique. I feel fortunate to witness the workings of his mind. He is funny and thoughtful and innocent and simply good. My other child is an old soul who is the younger sibling, but is already a kind and sensitive person who says the most amazing things, many of which I have written down and will quote in my book. From the mouth of babes as they say. My husband is my strength and is this bright light that sparks just when I need it the most. I could not do this (autism) without him or at least I could not do this as well as I do. I feel that we were blessed to have a child with autism because it has uncovered parts of everyone in my family that I would never have otherwise seen. It has made my life full and has inspired me as I lived through my lowest lows and my highest highs. I have also met some of the most wonderful people in the world, none of whom I would have met if my son were not autistic. It is strange, but I am actually grateful for every moment in my life and I take pieces of it all and write down everything that comes into my mind. Piecing this book together is taking a really long time.

WOW: You have come a long way. It’s great to hear so much encouragement that’s grown from something that began so bleakly for you. Have you found encouragement from other books or authors you could recommend?

Daniella: Books that have inspired me (Re-autism) are not those that detail the misery of autism. I tend to prefer humor and books on hope. I love Son Rise: The Miracle Continues by Barry Neil Kaufman and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. I like Mel Levine`s A Mind At A Time and The Myth of Laziness.

WOW: Thanks. Do you have any other goals for your writing career?

Daniella: I want most of all to get my book on my experience with autism published and I want to link it somehow with the foundation we are starting in Adam`s name to help other families like us. As for the rest of my writing I will keep at it, writing in the genres I fancy and hopefully I will get my stories published. If I don`t, I will still get pleasure from writing and I will write for the rest of my life because I just love to do it.

WOW: Do you have any advice for our readers?

Daniella: Hmm. Advice--A teacher I had in University said, “Do what you love and the money will come later.” His name was Gerry Good and he taught a course in our Radio and Television Arts program in Toronto. If you are doing something you don`t love, why not try doing something you love and are good at? Chances are it was what you were meant to be doing. Writing is not an easy way to make a living but if you enjoy it and work at it, it can perhaps be financially rewarding but mostly it will fulfill your soul.

WOW: For readers who haven’t read Daniella’s winning entry, go here.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007


My Not So Secret Formula for Winning Writing Contests

By Janet Paszkowski

When I called to tell a writer friend that my story had won an honorable mention in the WOW! 2007 Summer Flash Fiction Contest, she congratulated me with a yawn and a question . . . what’s your secret for winning so many writing contests?

Admittedly, I have won a number of contests, but it’s no secret; It’s a formula.

When it comes to entering writing contests, always submit your best work. That doesn’t guarantee you’ll win every time, but the quality of your submission is the first of the three factors in my formula for winning writing contests that you CAN control.

The second factor is also something you CAN control: Persistence. It is very important that you do not take the rejection of your work personally. Procrastinating or refusing to submit your best work because it might be rejected is NOT a winning option. Let me put it this way, as someone who has judged, as well as entered, a number of writing contests, I strongly suspect that the number of talented writers who never submit their finely crafted work—for fear of rejection—far outweighs the number of writers who dauntlessly submit their unpolished work.

The third factor is . . . dare I say it; Luck! Writers devoted to their craft are often reluctant to admit it, but luck occasionally does factor into winning writing contests. Case in point . . . last year while attending a local writing conference, I was hoping to win a prize for the first chapter of my novel. Actually, I was more than hopeful, I was feeling downright smug about competing in a regional contest, because earlier in the year my novel’s first chapter had received 2nd place in a national writing magazine contest with 320 entries. But, in the regional contest, my novel’s first chapter didn't even snag an honorable mention in competition with barely two dozen entries. Instead, I came home with the 1st prize in the poetry portfolio contest. Here's the rub, I entered the poetry contest at the last minute, submitting the same portfolio of my best poems that I had submitted the previous year, but had failed to receive any honors. The same poems—different judge–resulted in 1st prize.

Trust me on this . . . if you always submit your best, and you don't give up, you CAN make it to the winner's circle, even if the third factor of winning writing contests does occasionally involve a bit of luck, which is the only factor you CAN'T control.

Attention to craft + persistence + a bit of luck = winning. That’s my not so secret formula, and it WILL work for you too.

Janet Paszkowski

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Sunday, October 21, 2007


Lucky You

When we put up the new contest in September some of our regular flash fiction contestants scratched their heads and wrote us. "Wow, that is a departure," one of our previous winners wrote. "It's going to take a lot of thought on my part, if I end up entering at all. What do I write about?"

As I responded to one of these emails I remembered a story of how something strange changed my life. Off the top of my head, I wrote:

I just remembered something that brought me good luck once -- I was in Santa Monica with some girlfriends, and they kept saying, "Oh, we gotta go see this psychic, she's unbelievably accurate." Then they would snicker. O-k-a-y... I thought, sounds kinda fun, but I'm not shelling out a bunch of money I don't have to go see a psychic!

They took me to the pier and led me inside a room that had a carousel in the middle, and pushed up against the wall in the corner was this gaudy old mechanical fortune teller. Of course they burst out laughing, and I was just glad they weren't taking me to see a real psychic. So we all put in a dollar fifty, and the creepy lady moved her fingers over a crystal ball until the machine spit out a thick card.

The picture on the front of the card had a woman falling and screaming. I walked away to read it, fearing that it would say something bad. At the time I was not doing so hot with my finances to put it mildly. I was broke, in debt, jobless, and going nowhere fast. I feared that the card would predict another grim tale to add to my list. But to my surprise, the card basically said that the troubles I've been having with my finances would soon be over.

So I tucked the card away in my purse and carried it with me wherever I went, and a week later, I landed a contract for my graphic design business that paid a hundred grand a year.

Of course after that I called up all my friends and we celebrated!

I have no idea if the card really worked or not, but it just seemed like too much of a coincidence to dismiss.

When I think about all the experiences that have happened in my life, they all can be attributed to some form of luck, serendipity, or karma. Events happen in a series, connections lead from one experience to the other. If you step back for a moment and examine the most important times in your life... what event, action, or coincidence led up to that point?

I met my husband when my ex-boyfriend and I moved into an art studio four doors down from his. If I hadn't moved in and broken up with my ex soon thereafter, I probably wouldn't have met my hubby. That move to the studio put me in close proximity, and even before that, I was forced to move out from the apartment I lived, and so on and so on.

An easy way to find your "lucky you" moment is to write a list of monumental events in your life. Take a look at that list and hit rewind. What event started that ball rolling?

In my story with the mechanical fortune teller, I could've just said, that was a year I started making a lot of money because I got this really great contract gig -- but that wouldn't have made for a good story. By retracing your steps and the series of events that led up to that point, you will be able to find your "lucky you" moment... and you may even be lucky enough to win our essay contest!

So to get started, can you write a list of some major events in your life? Please share them here and we'll encourage each other!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Spotlight on First Place Winner: Alicia Stankay

Join us as we get to know our top winner!

WOW: Alicia, kudos to you for taking 1st Place in our Summer 2007 Contest. How did you feel when you learned? Did you see it online first, or did someone tell you they saw it first?

Alicia: I was incredibly excited when I found out I placed first in the WOW summer contest. I was on the phone with my mother when I checked the website and I nearly screamed in her ear. Nothing compares to scrolling down under the Summer Flash Fiction contest headline and seeing my picture under the 1st Place! Of course, I sent her the link to the contest immediately, so that she could read it for herself.

WOW: So, you shared your success instantly! Now, please tell us what encouraged you to write “Thanks for the Memories." Is there a story behind the story?

Alicia: Strangely, when I first saw the prompt, I immediately thought of the day my family rented a pontoon boat when I was about twelve. I have no idea why that was the first thing that popped into my head, but as soon as it did I could see the possibilities for humor. Our day on the water was probably a little crazier in some ways since I had four siblings younger than myself, but I don’t think any of the story incidents took place. I’ll get back to you on that after I check with my mom. . . .

WOW: That’s fine, either way. You did a fine job creating the incidents. In your bio you said you’ve been bit by the contest bug. Could you elaborate? Also, could you share what makes contests so beneficial for writers?

Alicia: A few years ago I was at a low point trying to get anything published. In the early to mid 80’s I had published some children’s short stories in several magazines, such as Discoveries, Counselor, and Pockets. I even made one sale to Highlights for Children, which was very exciting. Then, I got busy raising my kids and working and didn’t get back to writing until the late 90’s. At that time I discovered many markets had either dried up or accepted less fiction, and I turned to writing young adult mystery books. I did it partly to prove that I could write a longer work, and I was pleased with the results. However, when I tried to interest a publisher, I only managed to get a few nibbles, but no offers.

That’s when I read an article in Writer’s Digest about trying out contests to give a boost to your ego. At first I doubted that would work because if I entered contests and never won, then I’d feel even worse! But I decided to take a chance and ended up entering my first adult short story contest for the Taproot Literary Review and a children’s story for Children’s Writer. I continued writing and sending out to other contests, and then within two weeks in May I was amazed to find out that I had placed second in the Taproot contest and first in the Children’s Writer contest. Since then I have gone on to win several other contests and, honestly, the excitement of winning never diminishes. I believe that the contest categories and deadlines help to give the writer a focus, allowing the mind to open and creativity to flow, all within a limited time frame.

WOW: I agree. Let’s move into your other written works. You’ve written three young adult mystery books, which are in search of a publisher. Our summer Guest Judge, Jennifer DeChiara, is a literary agent. We hope you plan to make contact with her.

I noticed Jennifer DeChiara’s name immediately when I saw she was a guest judge because I had just recently printed out some information on her. It said her agency specialized in children’s literature and that’s what caught my interest. Since I’m thrilled that she was the judge for this contest, I definitely plan on contacting her very soon.

My young adult mysteries grew out of my need to prove I could write a book-length manuscript and my love of mysteries. I attended a writer’s group for several years where I received encouragement in writing a short series of teen novels. I used the seasons and began with Seagull Island Summer with the main character, Leah Wavering, a 15-year-old sent to live with her aunt for the summer while her parents traveled Europe on a photoshoot. Leah’s determined to hate everything because she wanted to stay home and enjoy the summer with her friends. Before she knows it, she’s found a new friend, is involved against her will with a young man who’s always underfoot, and entangled in a surprising number of mysterious incidents. By the book’s end, Leah had not only grown up a little, but used her love of photography to help solve a murder and stop the drug ring that was using the island.

My second book, All-for-One Autumn, has Leah and her friend, Ginny, working at a camp in the mountains for two weeks teaching inner city kids. Leah finds herself challenged because now she has to guide kids not much younger than herself and somehow form her group into a united team. Problems arise when one girl’s brother gets into trouble and hangs around the camp trying to hide. As danger creeps ever closer, Leah has to keep her head and again use her photography skills to bring a killer to justice.

In the third book in the series, Winter Whispers, Leah and her friends find themselves at the Victorian Inn and Playhouse during a snowstorm. Not only is the inn populated with an odd group of characters, but the play is dogged by a series of accidents. This time, not only does Leah have to save herself from a murderer, but she also has to free a young woman who was accused of murder and suicide over a hundred years ago.

WOW: Leah’s world sounds exciting in all three books. Congratulations on finishing three! What about other books you enjoy? Could you recommend authors who encourage you to write?

Alicia: Since I’m a mystery writer who loves history, some of my favorite writers are Anne Perry, especially the Thomas Pitt and Monk books, Ellis Peters, her Cadfael series, Elizabeth Peters, her Amelia Peabody series, and a recent writer I’ve discovered, Lauren Belfer. They all provide excellent blueprints on how to write a mystery, build suspense, draw interesting characters and capture a reader’s imagination. I also love the Alfred Hitchcock idea of the surprise endings, so I occasionally read the Alfred Hitchcock Magazine and recommend anthologies such as the World’s Finest Mystery & Crime Stories, published annually, which includes mystery and suspense short stories from around the world.

WOW: Thanks for recommendations. I’m sure our mystery lovers will check them out, if they haven’t already. Getting back to your writing careers, do you have any other long-term goals?

Alicia: My ultimate goal is still to publish a book, possibly one of my young adult mysteries or maybe even an anthology of all the mystery or ghost stories I’ve written so far. One of my favorite stories I’ve published is “Twin Paradox,” a ghost story that won first place in a Writers’ Journal contest last year. I’ve also considered publishing a nonfiction book about the bed and breakfasts my husband and I have stayed in the past few years. Each one of them has a unique background, description, and location. Instead of staying at your typical bland two-bed with dresser, table and chairs, Holiday Inn room, why not set out on a new and exciting adventure every time you travel?

WOW: The B & B’s sound like they have stories within stories, too. I bet there would be a few mysteries among them, too. In terms of writing as a craft, which books do you find the most helpful?

Alicia: For children’s writing, one of the best helps for markets, ideas, and careers is the Children’s Writer Guide, published yearly. It also includes information on conferences and contests. Some of the other books I have on my shelves are 20 Master Plots and How to Build Them by Ronald B. Tobias; Writing Mysteries: A Handbook by the Mystery Writers of America, edited by Sue Grafton; Writing to Sell by Scott Meredith; and The Art of Compelling Fiction (How to Write a Page-Turner) by Christopher T. Leland.

WOW: That book about plots sounds like a big help for the upcoming NaNo Competition! Thanks for sharing your favorites. Before we go, could you end on a little wisdom for our readers?

Alicia: I guess it all boils down to the fact that a writer writes because she has to. It’s there inside ready to boil up at a moment’s notice. I sometimes compare it to giving birth--you might want to ignore it or pretend the need’s not there or even hope it will go away, but just like that baby in the womb, eventually it’s got to come out.

I was once asked in a writer’s group, what was the one word that described my writing? After I thought a moment, I came up with liberating. Writing gives me the freedom to put down my deepest thoughts, or entertain with humor, or frighten with ghost tales, or any other possibility that enters my mind. It’s exhilarating when it all comes together, and characters speak to me or plot points appear out of some deep recesses of my mind. I don’t even mind editing myself and paring down to word counts because it gives me a thrill when I know I’ve strengthened and honed my story to the best that it can be. As commercial wisdom proclaims--Just do it!

WOW: You’ve been an absolute inspiration, Alicia! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and tips.

If you haven’t read Alicia’s top entry, go here. Do you have any feedback for Alicia? Feel free to write to her at: Thanks!

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Interview with Andrea Uptmor - Runner Up in the WOW! Flash Fiction Contest

Andrea Uptmor's story, 500 Words About Sally Rincker, was such a fast-paced adrenaline rush of words and images, we had to get to know the woman behind the story. Here's what Andrea had to say:

WOW: We loved your experimental story -- I say experimental, because it was all one sentence! What inspired you to write this story?

Andrea: The prompt, of course! The image of the lost pom-pom, all faded and crinkled, was a powerful one. The rest of the narrative sort of worked backwards from there.

WOW: Have you written any other stories that are all one sentence?

Andrea: I have, actually, and I'm beginning to think it's because I drink so much coffee while I write. The text takes on a sort of jittery, caffeinated quality that appeals to me.

WOW: Well, it appeals to us too, as does your detail to description. You received the Union League of Arts & Civics Foundation 2006 Fiction Prize -- can you tell us about the foundation, and what you wrote to receive this prize?

Andrea: The Union League club of Chicago has a great annual contest for the city's young writers and musicians. I won the fiction competition for a short story called, "Hives." It's so important to encourage young writers to just keep doing what they're doing, and organizations like the Union League club can really make an impact.

WOW: Currently, you're finishing your Masters of Arts in Creative Writing at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL. We think that shows tremendous dedication. What do you plan to do after you get your degree?

Andrea: Good question! The very first thing I'm going to do is consolidate my student loans, peek at the final number, and faint.

WOW: LOL. Well, whatever you do, we know you'll be successful! You sure were up to the challenge of writing for the WOW! 2006 Flash Fiction Contest. What did you find most challenging about it?

Andrea: I've never worked from a prompt before, which is challenging in itself, because you've got to push yourself even harder to make your piece unique. If everyone's starting from the same point, how can you work with structure to make yours stand out?

WOW: Well, you definitely did that! Can you tell us what you're working on right now?

Andrea: I'm finishing my capstone project at Northwestern, a collection of short fiction.

WOW: Since you're majoring in creative writing, do you have any writing exercises that you can share with us?

Andrea: I love freewriting, especially if you can type quickly. If you can type fast, it closes the gap between your first inspiration and the hesitation that always comes afterwards. Just spit it out - fast!

WOW: Good advice. So, how has entering the WOW! contest been for you?

Andrea: Incredibly worthwhile. Thank you!

If you haven't done so already, check out Andrea Uptmor's short story: 500 Words About Sally Rincker

Since we talked to Andrea, she sent us this kind e-mail:

"Angela and Beryl,

Thank you so much for the box of gifts you sent! What an incredibly generous gesture. I am really looking forward to indulging in all of the prizes - especially Amy Tan's book. Thanks again for an amazing experience.

Andrea Uptmor
Flash Fiction Runner-Upper"

Your welcome Andrea. We look forward to reading more of your work in the future! Please keep us updated on all your projects. :-)

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Saturday, February 10, 2007


Gival Press Writing Contests

This just in from Gival Press. Three writing contests!

2007 Gival Press Novel Award for best original previously unpublished literary novel in English, approximately 30,000 to 100,000 words.

Prize $3,000, copies and publication.

Reading fee $50 per novel submitted.

Deadline May 30th.

Email or visit website for complete details.
Gival Press,PO Box 3812, Arlington, VA 22203.


2007 Gival Press Oscar Willde Award for best previously unpublished poem in English that best relates GLBT life.

Prize $100 and publication on website.

Reading fee $5 per poem submitted, any form, style, length.

Deadline June 27th.

Email or visit website for complete details.
Gival Press,PO Box 3812, Arlington, VA 22203.


2007 Gival Press Short Story Award for best original previously unpublished literary story in English, approximately 5,000 to 15,000 words.

Prize $1,000 and publication on website.

Reading fee $25 per story submitted.

Deadline August 8th.

Email or visit website for complete details.
Gival Press,PO Box 3812, Arlington, VA 22203.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Interview with Jeri Rafter - Runner up in the WOW! Fall 2006 Flash Fiction Contest

Jeri Rafter is an amazing woman with a wonderful vision for creating imaginary worlds. Just read her story, Death By PomPom, and you'll see why. Her writing is raw, edgy, and in tune with the underground scene. It's no wonder that her guilty pleasure is 'indulging in dirty gossip rags' because she writes with a fashion-vibe (to coin a term), and I could easily see her creating the next girl-version of the uber-popular "Fight Club."

In an e-mail from Jeri, she had told us that she hadn't entered a contest since high school, and we were amazed. In fact, this is how the interview starts...

WOW: Jeri, is it true that you haven't written anything since high school? You're such a great writer, we find that hard to believe! What made you decide to enter the WOW! 2006 Flash Fiction Contest?

Jeri: Of course not! Did I say that? Seriously, I don't know where my brain goes sometimes. I have been writing everyday since high school, but not until the WOW! 2006 Flash Fiction Contest have I ever had anything published since 2001. I think it's important for women to have support out there in this literary world, and WOW is an amazing source of that support.

WOW: Thank you! And 'my bad' -- I assumed when you said you hadn't entered a contest since high school, that you weren't writing. Okay, it's my brain that's going places!

Jeri, one thing we love about your short story, Death By PomPom, is your ability to transport the reader into this other world -- an underground subculture of Goth Anti-Cheerleaders. What inspired you to write this story?

Jeri: I'm all for anti-heroes of any sort. I think black comedy is the best comedy, and the 'pom-pom' theme just generally leads itself into this dark subculture that had already existed in my mind.

WOW: That's great! And you look like such a sweet girl ;-) No really, I tend to be drawn to that kind of writing myself... you should ask Beryl about my short stories!

Anyway, let's move onto your bio. You were born in Montana and recently moved to L.A. How do you like it so far? Is it different from where you grew up?

Jeri: I love LA! The energy, people, and ideas here impress me every day. Back in Montana, you have to slow way down and learn to be patient and take things easy. Nothing happens in a day, but that is the beauty of it. No high heels either, there isn't a whole lot of pavement.

WOW: Oh no! I don't know if I could survive. I'm 5'4" and have to wear high heels if I don't have time to tailor my jeans. LOL. So tell us, what are you reading right now?

Nine Plays by Sam Shepard

WOW: And what was the most challenging thing about entering the flash fiction contest?

Jeri: Making myself edit.

WOW: Yes, that 500 word count can be a bear. So, do you have any writing, or other, goals for the New Year?

Jeri: I want to finish my screenplay and get it out to the world.

WOW: That's a great goal. We can see this happening for you. Please keep us up to date! Thanks again Jeri, and we hope that all your dreams come true.

If you haven't already checked out Jeri Rafter's short story, Death By PomPom, check it out HERE.

Side Note: Since we talked to Jeri for this interview, she sent us an e-mail about her prize-pack:

Dear Beryl and Angela-

WOW! is right! I can't believe how sweet and beautiful the package was that I received yesterday! I had no idea that was coming, what a nice surprise. You two are doing a great job, keep up the good work. I really appreciated all of the little touches, it was an amazing gift and I thank you so much!

With kindest regards,
Jeri Rafter

WOW's comments: You're so welcome Jeri, you deserve it and much more! We know you will go far with your writing.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Interview with Deb Kincaid - Runner up in the WOW! Fall 2006 Flash Fiction Contest

It's always interesting to hear where a story comes from. We think that motivation and the person behind the story is as interesting as the story itself. In this interview, we got a chance to ask Deb about her motivation and her writing goals.

WOW: Deb, we loved your story; especially the letter and the touching portrayal of the grieving widow. Can you tell us what inspired you to write Game Over?

Deb: People and circumstances change as they experience life. A high school romance that never developed for some reason could, if circumstances were favorable, be successfully pursued years later, in this age of the internet and This particular prompt worked well with this premise.

WOW: What kind of freelance writing do you like to do?

Deb: Because I'm an extremely curious person, I'm open to all sorts of freelance work (other than copywriting). Uncovering information, or discovering persons' motivations, are equally fascinating to me. I'm also interested in sustainable living and recently created a column titled PLANET HABIT. It's in a Q&A format and explains, persuades, and motivates those who may be new to this sort of green mindset.

WOW: Your column sounds great! I'm always interested in sustainable and green living. In your bio, you also said that this was the first short story that you had published. How does it feel to have your writing recognized?

Deb: I felt happy, satisfied and validated! Less than six months ago I decided I wasn't any good at fiction, but this particular prompt enticed me. I just had to try. Making the top 10 was especially sweet.

WOW: And well-deserved, I must say. Have you entered any other writing competitions?

Deb: I've only been learning to write for about two years, so I haven't entered too many contests yet. In two different Byline magazine contests, I placed 3rd in the short feature, and 2nd in a poetry contest. It is a goal of mine to enter at least one contest per month. I'm especially interested in flash fiction right now. This form is excellent training in making every word work as effectively and concisely as possible, which is beneficial in all sorts of writing.

WOW: That is an interesting point and one that writers continually have to deal with. What were some of the other challenges you experience when entering the WOW! flash fiction contest?

Deb: The biggest challenge to me is to make it different. The expected can be boring, but neither do I like freakish, edgy stuff, nor negative, depressing stuff. Life is scary and sad enough; I don't want to contribute to it. I want my readers to feel better afterwards -- not disturbed. I think "making it new" and different is harder to achieve in a positive setting, than in a negative one. And, admittedly, there seems to be more markets for edgy writing. Still, I think my efforts are worthwhile.

WOW: Yes, I believe there is a place for all sorts of writing, and as you can see from the entries, they are quite different. Keep doing what you're doing because it works. Do you have any advice for writers who may be unsure about entering writing contests?

Deb: Regarding entering contests? Just do it. Contests force sincere writers to do their best work. Constantly striving to improve writing skills is worthwhile whether we win or not. Contests are a deterrent against lazy writing habits. For new writers like myself, I recommend entering small, free or low-fee contests. Going up against writer's with MFA's in the bigger contests is a real killjoy and self-defeating. Trust that you'll get there some day. Give yourself time to grow; be patient, you're an apprentice. Enter contests where you could realistically succeed. Try to enter one or two each month, and try a variety of genres and word lengths until you know your strengths. You may be surprised if you keep your mind open.

WOW: Deb, I think that's good advice that we all can learn from. So tell us, what's next in your writing career?

Deb: I've set some realistic goals for myself this year: be published in webzines, and in regional publications (I live in the Northwest USA, Washington specifically); learn to write travel and nature articles; get my website up and running; take an online fiction writing course; join a writer's group; and attend my first writer's conference. I will also send a thank you note to my college professor who encouraged me to take a year off from school to learn writing by doing writing.

WOW: Sounds like you've got your plate full! But as you said, they are realistic goals and we are here to help you achieve them, in any way we can. I think your college professor was right on. Tell him thanks from us as well!

If you haven't already read Deb Kincaid's short story Game Over you can read it here: Fall Contest Winners

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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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Interview with Diana Ewing, WOW! Contest Winner

Diana Ewing's story, "The Gift of the Mac Guy," delighted us all and warmed our hearts. And since it was the perfect story for the holiday season, we had to ask Diana her inspiration behind it. Here's what she had to say:

WOW: What inspired you to write this story?

Diana: I thought and thought about how to use your pom-pom theme, dismissing every idea I came up with. Finally, because the holidays were approaching, I happened to think about the old O. Henry story, "The Gift of the Magi." And, voila, my story was born!

WOW: That's great Diana! Taking an old story and tailoring it to fit the prompt. I had no idea where it came from, but it was absolutely wonderful. Can you tell our readers what you're working on right now?

Diana: Besides my regular freelance P.R. and copywriting work, I'm working on my nonfiction humor book proposal, refining my first three chapters and writing a synopsis toward the late January writers' conference in San Diego.

WOW: That's great to see you're staying busy writing and attending events. Do you enter many writing contests?

Diana: This is the first fiction writing contest I've ever entered.

WOW: Well, congratulations! And how was the experience of entering the WOW! Fall 2006 Flash Fiction Contest been for you?

Diana: I was attracted to your fun and clever prompt and found the rules and guidelines for entering the contest to be very clear and easy to follow. Plus, the prize package is amazing! I would suggest to all short fiction contests that they provide a prompt because it puts all the stories on a more equal footing.

WOW: Well said. In fact, that's the whole idea behind the prompt! It does level the playing field for all writers. We've seen first hand that it's not the experience of the writer that counts here, it's the way the story is told, and the way it is written. And you can see from the diverse entries that experimental writing is encouraged!

Diana, thanks for answering our questions, and we look forward to your article in our February Issue's Freelancer's Corner.

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

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Interview with Melissa Herman, WOW! Contest Winner

Melissa Herman's story, "In the Name of Love," won 3rd place in our Fall 2006 Flash Fiction Contest. And if you read the story, you can see that Melissa had such a unique take on our prompt that we had to ask her about the inspiration behind it. Here's what Melissa had to say:

WOW: Melissa, what inspired you to write, In the Name of Love?

MH: I am a horror writer so most of my fiction tends toward the darker side of human nature. It was a challenge to turn such an innocent object- a cheerleader's pom pom- into something less than pure. I knew I needed a strong woman who could handle this bizarre situation. I was really quite excited and proud of the finished product.

As you should be. Your piece was riveting! It seems like you've done this before... have you entered many writing competitions?

MH: I have entered several writing contests over the past couple of years. I've entered the Writer's Digest competitions- both the short story and the new genre contest. I also research the Web looking for contests that focus on the horror genre like the Bards and Sages contest. There are several sites that I use which is how I found out about WOW as well.

WOW: That's great. We love the support from our sister sites. They all help us to get the best possible entrants for our contest, such as yourself. Which reminds me... you have quite an impressive resume, from your work with NPR, MSNBC, and The Chicago Tribune. Can you tell our readers what kind of work you did for them?

MH: I submitted an essay, "One Day in February," to the National Endowment for the Arts project Operation Homecoming. Though my piece was not published in their anthology, my piece was used frequently to promote the project. I read a portion of it on NPR and it was published on their Web site. The Chicago Tribune and MSNBC also published it. This summer I went to LA to participate in a documentary about the project as well.

WOW: Congratulations! That's quite an accomplishment, as is winning our contest. Can you tell us how the experience of entering WOW! Fall 2006 Flash Fiction has been for you?

MH: I enjoyed being part of this contest. The prompt was fun and writing flash fiction was a great challenge. Being a quarterly contest, the wait is negligible and you ladies kept us well-informed of the process. Not to mention, WOW is a great opportunity for women to have their work recognized by their peers. It's a great community!

WOW: Thanks Melissa for the kudos, and we wish you the best of luck in your writing career. Hopefully, we will have you back soon to freelance for WOW!

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

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