Posts Tagged ‘writing contest’

Prepping for NaNoWriMo


PREPPING FOR NaNoWriMo with SUSAN MEIER: Online Course

DATE: October 1 – October 31, 2011


Everybody believes NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which runs every November at is a race against the clock, a fight with procrastination and inertia. In some ways it is. But once you’re in the thick of things, you’ll discover NaNo is really all about ideas. Writers don’t stall because they’re lazy. Writers stall because they don’t know what to write next.

The month BEFORE NaNo, get proven tips from Susan Meier—the author of almost 50 books for Harlequin and Silhouette—and let her take you through several different ways to examine the story you want to write, to capture the natural scene possibilities within your idea, to generate new ideas, and to push yourself through the most grueling, but fun, month you will spend this year! Lessons include:

* The List of 20 (How to generate ideas quickly so you have little downtime when your natural ideas run out)
* Turning a “Want” into “Need” (How does knowing why you’re writing this book provide you with both energy to write and ideas for your story?)
* The One-Paragraph Story Summary (Say it succinctly…3 kinds of one-paragraph story summaries: back cover blurb, core story question, and growth paragraph)
* Could, Might, Must and Should List (How to capture ideas that spring up naturally)
* Storyboard Versus Synopsis (Breaking your idea down into manageable bites)
* The Psychology of Pushing through the Hard Times (What to do when you get stuck)
* The Psychology of a Draft (Push, push, push!)
* What Are You Doing in December? (Editing tips)

Discover how to get the most out of NaNo and write a publishable novel. LIMITED CLASS SIZE. Enroll now.


Susan Meier is the author of over 45 books for Harlequin and Silhouette and one of Guideposts‘ Grace Chapel Inn series books, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS. Her books have been finalists for Reviewers Choice Awards, National Reader’s Choice Awards and Reviewer’s Choice Awards and nominated for Romantic Times awards. Her book, HER BABY’S FIRST CHRISTMAS won the traditional category in the 2009 More Than Magic contest. HER PREGNANCY SURPRISE, her first release for the Harlequin Romance line, made both Walden’s Bestseller List for Series Romance and Bookscan. MAID FOR THE MILLIONAIRE, MAID FOR THE SINGLE DAD, and COUNTRY TWIN CHRISTMAS are her 2010 releases. Susan loves to teach as much as she loves to write and is a popular speaker at RWA chapter conferences. Can This Manuscript Be Saved? and Journey Steps, Taking the Train to Somewhere! are her most requested workshops. Her article “How to Write a Category Romance” appeared in 2003 Writer’s Digest Novel and Short Story Markets. Susan also gives online workshops for various groups and her articles regularly appear in RWA chapter newsletters. For more information about Susan Meier, visit

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* For more information on this course, contact Laura M. Campbell, Online Courses Coordinator.
To mail in your registration and payment, send payment at least one week before the course starts using the mail form at this link.


Writing Contest – Win A Copy of Lady Killer by Lisa Scottoline


Write a mini story (250-300 words) using the following words: cell phone, blog, roast beef sandwich, blow dryer, flat tire, Facebook.

Have fun with it and post your entry as a comment to this blog.  Contest open May 1 – May 21, 2011

Winner announced May 30, 2011

 Win A Copy of Lady Killer by Lisa Scottoline

Tuesday Morning and Nothing to Say


I’d been sitting in front of my keyboard for thirty minutes and had produced nothing useable for my blog. I started and stopped a number of things only to run out steam after the first paragraph.

I planned to  write about the importance of networking for writers.  It should have been easy.  I couldn’t understand why was I suffering from writer‘s block on this of all subjects.

Afterall,  I know from personal experience how being part of a supportive group of writers can lead to success.  It was only after attending a writing workshop as a guest and meeting Lorraine Henderson, one of the speakers,  that I gathered the nerve to submit to True Story magazine.  She even proof read it for me. 

Then I went  to my first writers conference. It didn’t matter to anyone that I hadn’t published anything yet.  I signed up for as many workshops as I could fit into the time allotted and was heartened by the positive feedback and constructive comments I received from the workshop leaders and the other participants. 

I entered my writing in a conference contest and won a prize. Knowing that the entries had been judged by other writers made  the win very meaningful.  I was on cloud nine.

It seemed almost magical to me. I was a beginner trying to determine if I could really be a writer and there I was   in the company of editors, agents, publishers and award-winning authors all sharing their wisdom.  Some staid and awe-inspiring others full of humor and very down to earth.

When I left I made a promise to myself. I would be a published author in time for the next conference.  I met that goal in large part because of the advice I received at the conference and the continuing access to writers as a member of Pennwriters.

The following year I set a goal to give back to the group by serving on the board of directors. I met that goal and continue to work hard to welcome new members as warmly as I was welcomed and to help them meet their goals as much as  I can.

My next goal was to be a presenter.  I’m not an outgoing person by nature. I often describe myself as a quiet observer of the world. One who expresses herself best through the written word.  I had to find a way to stand in front of a room full of people and share what I had learned from the generous mentors in my growing network of other writers.  I accomplish it by creating  a character in a book, one who is comfortable in the spotlight, and taking on her persona. 

Not long after that I started a local writers group. I did it because I want to be in the company of writers more than once a year.  Putting a number of creative people in one room has an amazing affect on everyone. Ideas flow,resources are shared, and every now and then a brand new published author emerges and everyone celebrates.  It’s the kind of thing that keeps me writing even on a Tuesday morning when I have nothing to say.

218 Words and the Bedpost Spike – Guest Blog


I wrote 218 words today. That’s how I start all of my posts. It keeps me honest. Public accountability doesn’t work for everyone, but I find it a reliable convincer to get me out of bed and to my computer every morning.

Before I get into the meat of this post, a couple disclaimers:
1) I’m not an expert. To date, I have one publishing credit—a short story in a publication that went belly up before the ink dried on my $12.45 royalty check. I am a hack and therefore cannot be held responsible for anything you glean from my aimless ramblings.
2) I’m currently taking mass quantities of cold meds, so if you stumble upon a large, disjointed section that seems to go nowhere leaving you dangling over a metaphoric cliff, I humbly apologize.

Okay, with that said, welcome! I’m glad you’re here. If you were expecting Schizo, I’m sorry to disappoint, because I know how disappointment can ruin your day. When I was a kid, I once rode my bike five miles to the video store to rent Back to the Future 3 only to find no copies available. I was crushed!

If I could speak to that younger version of myself, I’d say, “Stop crying, you big baby, and get used to rejection! One day you’ll be a writer!”

Unfortunately time travel is still impossible, which is a shame. I could have saved myself a lot of worry and sadness.

When I first started writing, the path to publication seemed so simple. Write a story, mail it to a publisher, and use the time it takes for them to receive it, read it, and call begging for the publishing rights to select the complete cast for the Hollywood blockbuster adaptation.


Turns out that’s not actually how it works; at least not for most people. The reality is most writers will weather quite a few gut-wrenching, soul-crushing rejections before getting their first nod from the publishing industry. It just comes with the territory, which can be extremely disheartening for folks who don’t know how to deal with it.

“Well, Hack, how do you deal with rejection?”

Please forgive the simplicity of the following answer, but I don’t consider thanks but no thanks personal rejections and try my best to learn from each one.

Rejection will always suck (that’s a given) but it only hurts when we consider it an indicator of our personal worth. When we are able to separate who we are from what we’ve written, rejection becomes less a source of disappointment and more a catalyst for change.

In his writing memoir, On Writing, Stephen King talks about his publishing struggles early on in his career. Back then, publishers sent little blue rejection slips about the size of a notecard instead of form letters. After receiving his first, King pounded a nail through it into his bedpost where he placed all the many rejection slips that followed. Pretty soon, he had received so many that he had to replace the nail with a spike.

Sometimes the rejection slips would come with hand-written feedback scribbled into the margins. He drank these critiques up. For King at least, rejection wasn’t an excuse to give up but an opportunity to learn. I think things turned out pretty well for him.

Taking rejection with a smile ain’t easy, but in my opinion, it’s the only productive response. The alternative is decidedly unproductive and damaging and can end a potentially long and successful career before it even starts.

So next time you receive a harsh critique, a rejection letter, or the dreaded thanks but no thanks, do three things: 1) separate the present worth of your craft from your perceived worth as an individual, 2) give yourself a hug, because you’re no less awesome and 3) search the margins of the rejection to find lessons that might actually make you a better writer.

And, friends, with that bit of wisdom and a buck in change, you can buy yourself a coke!

Thank you, Hack. I look forward to reading your upcoming blogs and will rejoice along with you when the acceptance letter come. 

Your Friend, Schizo

 To read more musings from The Hack Novelist  click on this link.

Related Articles



A Shocked Woman and a Tornado Forming In the Sky - Royalty Free Clipart PictureWe’ve been listening to the warnings all week and taking heed. She’s a major force, this one. Not quite as stormy as when she started out but still puffed up enough to wreak havoc on our little home. We prepare as best we can. The pantry bulges with canned goods and extra supplies, the icemaker is running on overtime and we have lots of candles and extra toilet paper.

“Kids, you aren’t going to be able to play with your X-Box for a few days. Go find the monopoly board and bring in your bikes, leaving them out in the driveway is just asking for trouble.”

I cast a worried glance at Mike. He’s been busy all morning, hoping for the best, preparing for the worst. Sighing, he braces himself and winks at me. We resolve to get through this together, clean up any debris left behind and carry on.

“She’s coming, she’s coming”, the kids yell, their voices strained by excitement and tension. I see her moving up the driveway under a full head of steam. Feeling brave, I open the door to face her head on. From behind me, I hear Mike’s voice.

“Hi, Mom….. Come on in. So glad you could come.”

Eavesdropping for Fun and Profit


I love gossip. Ever since I was a shy skinny thing with a freckled face and the ability to blend into the background, I’ve been fascinated by the conversations going on around me. Even now, whenever I spot people talking I watch for a while looking for that certain something in their faces to indicate something interesting is going on, then I inch toward them as silently as possible and tilt my head just a bit, listening. I’m rarely disappointed.
I remember my mother and her friend talking about the lady across the street who let her kids run wild all day and went bare legged to church on Sunday. “Bold as brass,” they said, their ominous tone predicting a bad outcome for her boys.
“Did you hear about the Walkers?” my Dad asked the guy in the hardware store on day.
“Yeah,” he answered shaking his head sadly, “I saw the moving truck out front last week. It’s a darn shame too, with the baby coming and all.”

“What happened to the Walkers?” I asked, my voice muffled by a nickels worth of jellybeans.
“Nothing you need to know about,” Daddy hushed me, reaching for a green one and popping it into his mouth. “It’s not polite to eavesdrop. You keep your nose to yourself little one. It won’t do any of us any good if you start going around telling stories.”
I never found out what happened to the Walkers, or why leaving your stockings off on a hot summer day meant doom for your children but I did discover that telling stories can indeed do a world of good for me and lots of other people too.
These days I combine eavesdropping with writing whenever I can. It’s become a lot easier now. People are a lot less circumspect than they used to be, they talk about everything with just about anyone and with the ever-expanding use of cell phones, they talk just about everywhere. Whenever I hear something delicious, intriguing or just plain funny, I jot it down. Then when I get stuck for a story idea or need a writing exercise, I search through my stash for an opening line and start writing.
Here are a few that just might get you started.
At a recent Round Hill Ladies Club Meeting: “And then, without even looking, my mother-in-law plopped down on the sofa and sat on the baby!”
At a local restaurant as a young woman handed a tissue to her distressed friend: “Forget about him, once a cheat always a cheat, and besides he’s a lousy kisser anyway……uh oh.”
At the grocery store, a harried Mom to her teenaged daughter: “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times, stop repeating yourself.”
On the Metro into Washington D.C., an elderly woman into a cell phone: “Billy?” she whispered. “It’s me. Meet me at the park after you put your mother to bed, and bring the stuff.”
From my own bathroom: “Honey….., there’s a frog in the bathtub.”
OK, that last one wasn’t something I overheard. My husband said it to me the other night, eager to point out an unusual and unexpected visitor, but it’s such a good opening line I had to include it.
It’s true that your next door neighbor may get upset if you tell everyone about the time she got drunk and danced on the bar at her cousins wedding, but if you take her brash parting comment as her husband led her out the door, “Talk all you want, but Johnny Walker is still the best dance partner I ever had,” and use it as the beginning of your new Romance novel, she’ll forgive you.
Words flow all around us everyday, and some of them beg to be crafted into a story. By taking only bits and pieces of conversations, you can turn tragedy into comedy, horror into romance and gossip into royalties. Are you listening? I am. Speak up a little will you please?

Flash Fiction That Pays


Jenny added another packet of sugar to her coffee knowing it would be her only meal of the day. She pulled the last $50.00 from her pocket and set it on the table. Stared at it.  Prayed it would reproduce so she could at least pay the rent.

The dingy one room apartment was the only place she felt safe. She’d left only to use the phone. Somehow she had to convince him to call off the hit. She’d swear she hadn’t seen a thing.

She looked up as the door opened, startled to see him standing there.

She ran out the back door and down the urine fouled, litter-strewn alley into the street.

“Now what?” she prayed.

Back at the café, Betty scooped up the tip left behind by the nervous redhead, failing to notice it was a fifty-dollar bill until she counted her tips at closing.

“Thank God,” she whispered. Now she could pay the rent.
Flash Fiction means very short stories. The number of words a writer may use to tell a story varies from 50 to 1,000 depending on the call for submissions.  Here are  links for two websites that showcase Flash Fiction at it’s best and pay something you can put toward your rent. Brevity and Glimmer Train

And The Winner Is ….


The winner of the first “Speaking of Getting Paid for Writing, ” contest is JK Coate submitted on 6/14/2010.  Please contact Schizophrenic Writer directly at with an address where she can send your $50.00  prize.

JK Coate’s entry was chosen for the dramatic use of setting to define Mallory and her circumstances and for the eerie personification of the blinking sign to create a compelling voice. Congratulations.

 Honorable Mention Goes to: Joyce Lansky for, “Millie.”  A new contest will be announced August 1, 2010.

Flash Fiction Contest Open Until July 4th


Don’t miss an opportunity to win $50.00 for your writing. Schizophrenic Writer is an avid supporter of all those who share her love of the written word. Beginners and multi-published writers deserve to paid for their work. It’s not a lot of money but I plan to offer periodic opportunities for writers to add to their publishing credits.

Submission guidelines: Every day you listen to the voices around you. On the metro, in the coffee shop, at work, at home with your family, even in your dreams. Write a story  in which an unexpected voice causes a major change in your character’s life.  500 word limit. Submit your entry in the comment section of the blog.

Feel free to post on your Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites.

Speaking of Getting Paid for Writing


Schizophrenic Writer is sponsoring a flash fiction contest. 500 Word limit. Winner Receives $50.00 Deadline July 4, 2010

Every day you listen to the voices around you. On the metro, in the coffe shop, at work, at home with your family, even in your dreams. Write a story  in which an unexpected voice causes a major change in your character’s life. 

Submit your entry in the comment section of the blog.