June Rodriguez
DORI: Now that I'm finishing up the final edits of my latest short story, I'm contemplating where to submit it to. When I wrote it initially I was looking at the next Writer's Digest short, short story, but not sure it's a good fit. I went back and read the winning entries for the last two short, short story contests and don't think my story is what they would be looking for. The last two entries were based on real life stories and more literary in nature. This short story falls squarely in the crime fiction genre. It would be a better fit with Writer's Digest current Pop Fiction short story contest, which has a 4,000 word limit. Given mine is under 1,500 I'm also not sure how well it would fair. My concern is the cost of entering contests. I'm also looking at the Genre Wars short story contest (1,000 to 2,000 word limit) that has no entry fee.

At my Sisters in Crime meeting they announced the winners of this year's Dead Bird short story contest. While I didn't get the top prize, I was awarded the Baby Bird for the best first time entrant story. I had the opportunity to read my short story (that you all so wonderfully helped me with) and was pleased that the story resonated with the audience. Was a great experience.

All right so now the first two short stories I have written have won some sort of award or recognition. Now to see what I can do with my third. Also, need to find a place to publish both of my first stories as publication wasn't part of either contest.

JUNE: Congrats on the contest win. That’s two for two. The only reliable way to tell what each contest wants is to read the entry guidelines carefully. A single short story can be entered in more than one contest unless the rules state otherwise. Be extra careful when reading what type of rights the contest wishes to retain as this will impact your ability to summit your piece elsewhere. Beware of putting all or part of your story online as this may tag your piece as being published.
I’m sure with all of us looking for new avenues we will find a place for your latest story.

SARAH: Cyberland is a huge world. There have got to be untapped resources of where to submit a wonderful story such as yours, Dori. I know several romance authors list contests on their websites. This can't be a genre specific practice. I wonder if thriller or mystery writers do the same. Another avenue is writer's group magazines. RWA's magazine, the RWR, always lists contests in the back of each edition. It may be too late for Halloween this year, so pay attention to what short stories come out this year and their respective presses. Next spring, start watching that press for submission calls.

SUNNY: When I teach Guerrilla Writing in my Write To Win workshop, I also tell people to read the publication or winning entries to get a feel for what the judges or editors want to publish. Google their profile and see where their bias point to. Angle your material in that direction.

I also advise something that is completely unethical. Submit simultaneously, even if guidelines state that they must be the only ones looking at your piece. Seriously--if an online magazine wants your story for free and Ellery Queen is offering to publish you for big bucks, are you going to take the high road? The online magazine might get in a snit, but they won't impact your career.

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SUNNY: I found this wonderful music to listen in the background as I write. Her name is Hayley Westenra and the CD is "Celtic Treasure." It takes me to another realm.

JUNE: Sometimes I listen to music as I write. My taste may seem a little extreme. I like rock and roll. I have fallen in love with online radio. I am able to go in and design my own stations to play only the songs I want. My latest favorite is http://www.slacker.com/ You have to sign in but you can choose a group or singer and the site will design a station around that piece with similar music.

JACKIE: I love listening to Celtic music while I write. It stirs the passions. I think all the melodic changes that occur work magic on the brain.

SARAH: I listen to a wide variety of music while I write. Some days, I just enjoy the silence! LOL My favorite is Pandora.com, because it's easy and F-R-E-E, baby! Lorena McKenna, Conway Twitty, Dean Martin, Glasgow Peggy, and The Irish Rovers make up my stations. I love the variety. There is music for every mood. Whether I have music or not, I'm always happy just to be writing. My fantasy world is WAY more intriguing than my reality of dishes and laundry! LOL

DORI: I like to play my favorite CDs while I write. Which ones depend on my mood and what I'm writing at the time.

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DORI: I just started taking an on-line writing class, through Writer University that started with having us take the Myers-Briggs personality test. I was surprised that most of the other writers in the group were generally introverts, rather than extroverts like me. Are writers as a group generally introverts? How does that relate to having to do self-promotion?

Why don't you all take the test and see what it says about you. To take the test go to http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes1.htm.

JUNE: I think I have been both and introvert and an extrovert at different times in my life. Can you be both at the same time? I think writers have to be a little of both these days. Especially when you have to be able to do both sides of the job, be a writer and a marketer.

SARAH: I don't think I've ever been introverted. I'm loud and always laughing. I think our group should take that test and see where we all fit. What fun!

SUNNY: I took the test. I'm an "Artistic Composer." Apparently, I can tolerate people for only so long. I live in the here-and-now, am more interested in individual accomplishment and am misunderstood except by my cats. I join the ranks of Dylan, Cher and Jackie O. Yeah, I'll take that label.

DORI: How fascinating, that sounds just like you. I am the Idealist Champion fighting to make the world a better place. I join the ranks of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. How cool is that. Through speaking or writing, Champions use their convictions to motivate others to participate in advocacy or they hope to reveal a hidden truth about the human experience. Champions are greatly concerned with ethics and justice and have a strong desire to speak about current issues and events. Wow, that's me to a T.

JUNE: I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the rest of our tests. Dori’s and Sunny’s results sound like they were spot on.

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JUNE: I am gearing up to do the NaNoWriMo writing challenge again this year. http://www.nanowrimo.org/ Last year I was a newbie to this experience so I am hoping I will do a better showing this year.

SUNNY: I don't need that kind of pressure. I have a publisher and fans nudging for the next Christy Bristol novel.

SARAH: You'll do fine, June. I have faith in you, lady! I don't know that NaNoWriMo is pressure. We all love writing, so we make time for it. I look at the exercise as a way to motivate individuals to make writing a priority. It's like a month of experimentation to see what works best for fitting in some write time. I know a lot of authors who shoot for two hours a day.

My newbie advice in a nutshell: You can do it, June! You can do it all month long! LOL

DORI: Doing NaNoWritMo is about putting lots of words on the page. You could work on a novel, but you may want to come up with a dozen short story ideas before you start and work on those. That way, whether you make the 50,000 words or not, you are likely to have some completed work out of the process that you can then edit and market.

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SUNNY: In critiquing Sarah's story this week, there were very few weaknesses. She gave us good exposition, but in the wrong place in the manuscript. She interrupted the tension of an action scene in progress to supply information. While I believe in continuing the flow of words as they come, the real craft is in knowing when to cut and paste them where they fit and are appropriate.

JACKIE: Using fewer words to express the same information. I am finding that so much power is crafted into lines by letting the least amount of words possible lift the important word or phrase.

JUNE: Tracking seams to be my bone of contention. I don’t like being stopped in my reading by info repeated or missing. If I can watch the scene as I read without the speed bumps I can move on in the story.

SARAH: Yes, in this week's edits, I did get carried away with internal thought. Once you gals broke it all down for me, I could see where I stopped the flow of the scene. By cleaning out some of those extra lines, I have a much crisper scene. LOL Let's see what I'm going to be learning next week.

DORI: Story, story, story is the name of the game. Any narrative or extra words that get in the way of keeping the reader rooted in your story is bad, bad, bad. Even good writing is bad if it interferes with the reader's reading experience. That's what editing is for, to pare back and make sure the story flows. When you're in the middle of action, as Sunny pointed out, you have to maintain the tension and fast pace of the scene or risk losing the momentum you are trying to achieve. Know your scene will be topnotch once you do the edits.
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