Do you like to write essays? Enter the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Essay Contest where you can win $10,000 as a first prize, $1,000 as a second prize, or one of the five $500 finalist awards. Entries must be postmarked no later than Jan.8, 2012. Visit the following link for the guidelines and writing suggestions:
Archive for September, 2011
HIGHLIGHTS 2012 FICTION CONTEST
A funny story inspired by an unusual newspaper headline.
Three prizes of $1,000 or tuition for the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop at Chautauqua.
All entries must be postmarked between January 1 and January 31, 2012.
No entry form or fee is required.
Entrants must be at least 16 years old at the time of submission.*
We welcome work from both published and unpublished authors. All submissions must be previously unpublished.
Stories may be any length up to 750 words. Stories for beginning readers should not exceed 475 words. Indicate the word count in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of your manuscript.
Include your name and the title of your story on your manuscript.
No crime, violence, or derogatory humor.
Entries not accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope will not be returned.
Manuscripts or envelopes should be clearly marked FICTION CONTEST. Those not marked in this way will be considered as regular submissions to Highlights.
SEND ENTRIES TO:
Highlights for Children
803 Church Street
Honesdale, PA 18431
The three winning entries will be announced on Highlights.com in June 2012. These stories will become the property of Highlights for Children and will be published by Highlights. All other submissions will be considered for purchase by Highlights.
* We’re sorry that we cannot consider contest entries from children under the age of 16. Young writers are welcome to submit their work for consideration elsewhere in the magazine. Guidelines are available on HighlightsKids.com.
Last week my regular walking friend was out-of-town, so my husband joined me on my morning walk. As we made our laps around the track, I searched for the regular dogs who normally greeted me. Hmm.
Where was Brownie? Shelby? Lola? No dog kisses. No wagging tails of warmth. After all, they are the real reasons I go out for exercise.
But then, a beautiful black lab I had never seen before, loped toward us. His tail wagged, he ran circles first, as if begging to play.
“Where’s your mommy and daddy?” I asked as he romped around.
“I’m sure they’re in the parking lot somewhere,” said Bob. “It seems like that’s where he came from. They probably let him out to run.”
But as we walked along, the mystery dog stayed by my side, as though he owned us.
“I think he must have got out,” I said, calling him to me. He came willingly and I read his collar, which wasn’t so easy to do, as it had faded with time, as my eyesight has done. “Cocoa!” I said, which was the first thing I could read from the bone-shaped tag.
He wagged his tail in recognition. Bob recognized the address as being on the other side of the park and open space.
“I wish I had a leash with me,” I said.
Bob heaved a sigh. Not quite the dog lover as I. “He probably knows how to get home.”
“But dogs aren’t always good with cars,” I said.
Next, a small deer, with antlers rising far above his head – – nearly larger than the deer itself – – leaped across the grassy field. We stopped in awe to watch his graceful dance. But then Cocoa took off after him.
“No!” I shouted. “Cocoa!”
He ran faster than the deer.
“Stop!” yelled my husband.
Cocoa applied his breaks. At least someone taught him to obey.
“Come, Cocoa!” I clapped my hands and Cocoa came. The deer bounded up the hill safely.
My heart still beat fast. We walked in silence.
I said a silent prayer for a solution, one that would work for both Bob and me.
It appeared right in front of us in the next moment.
A man wearing a Hawaiian shirt, with a blonde dog on a leash, came down from a side trail right in front of us on the track. Cocoa greeted his dog with barks and howls, jumping all over him.
“This dog came to us out of nowhere,” I told this dog owner.
He shook his head. “I’ve dealt with him and his owner before. His owner has a gate with a broken latch but when I’ve returned him, he yelled at me for not calling. Which I did but he didn’t answer his phone.”
We all shook our heads this time.
He unhooked the leash from his own dog and attached it to excitable Cocoa. “I’ll return him again,” said Hawaiian shirt.
“Thank you!” we said.
The three of them walked away in the direction of Cocoa’s house. I wondered what Cocoa’s living situation is like. It doesn’t seem like his owner cares much that he gets out, or that he inconveniences other people. Does he realize his dog could get hurt or killed?
And then I think about the kids in a friend’s class. Their parents act in ways like the dog owner. I’m glad I was raised by parents who cared enough to take time for me.
1. Take a deeper look at your writing. Did you fix a problem temporarily where it may crop up again in a later chapter? Fix any loose holes or leave any strings unattached?
2. Did you create your characters with depth so that each one rings true? Does each one have a flaw? Why do they have this flaw? What is the worst thing that can happen in your story because of this flaw? Have you forced your character to confront his or her weakness?
3. Are you ever presented with a problem in you writing you don’t know how to solve? If so, ask for the answer. Write down your question. Sleep on it. Mull it over as you take walks, wash the dishes, or mow the lawn. Sometimes serendipity strikes and your answer will land right in front of you. But if you want a deeper fix, sometimes you have to dig more deeply into your characters or plot to discover the answer.
Victoria Zackheim gave an outstanding talk at the California Writers Club on Saturday. Although she spoke on creating anthologies, much of what she said applies to all writing.
Which is why it’s so wonderful to attend many genres of authors speak. Their advice and vision help all writers in ways we don’t realize until we hear them.
Regarding nonfiction books: “Write the proposal first. This is a clear idea of what the book is about. It becomes an outline for you.”
About any kind of writing: “Dig deeper. There’s more to the story. There’s something you don’t want to talk about.”
“Describe your book in thirty words or less. Brevity works.”
Regarding anthologies: “A community of writers is formed around each book. Now they’re creating their own communities of friends.”
And when she wrote her introduction for the proposal of the book, 90% became the introduction of the book itself.
What are editors looking for in an anthology?
*originality in concept
*new ideas for fiction
*established and up-in coming authors (Not widely published so they can create a platform for them. This gives hope for everyone!)
*ensemble that sparks interest and inspires
1. Write thirty words on about your book.
2. Come up with an idea for an anthology. You can even do one for fun within your writing group or writing community.
3. Read a good anthology, such as He Said What? Women Write About Moments When Everything Changed, edited by Victoria Zackheim.
There’s an article in The New Yorker about saving independent bookstores. The question is this: should we? The point has been made that video stores have disappeared. There’s no longer a need. Why should there be one for the small bookstore?
I’ve had this theory since Amazon and the big chain stores popped up in our towns, closing independent bookstores. The prices on Amazon (and their unfair no-tax system) can’t be beat. And today’s society likes to press buttons. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out they’d win over the brick and mortar chain stores.
You know what people thrive on?
A sense of belonging. Community.
I sense the time of independent bookstores will be right around the corner. A few have started popping up here and there. And many cities have never let theirs die off in the first place. They still have author readings, book clubs and great book selections.
So hope, pray, and visit your nearest independent bookstore.
I’m working on a big project right now, one that has captured my heart; it came to me in a dream. It’s taking me some time to get everything in a row. Research. Read. Take notes. Write my memories. Interview.
What a fabulous process. But it requires a tremendous amount of patience. Someone once said, “I want patience, and I want it NOW!”
Writing often feels like that.
‘When will you send it out?” asks a friend who is a writer and accustomed to sending out manuscripts very quickly.
“It’s not ready yet,” I say.
“When will it be?” she asks.
I shrug. “I’ll know when I know.”
I must trust the process.
“. . . I was taught that the way of progress is neither swift nor easy.” Marie Curie
“When you get serious about the universe, the universe gets serious about you.” Marianne Williamson
1. What project are you willing to show patience and perseverance with? What tweaks your heart and you know you must write it no matter what? Go ahead, make the committment! What do you have to lose? As Sid Fleischman used to say, “Only the paper is wasted.” Now it’s not even that half of the time.
2. One of my friends would say, “But what if it doesn’t sell?” Do not be concerned with the outcome. Be focused on your passion and your craft. Take it step by step. Or as Anne Lamott says, “Bird by bird.” Worry about marketing later. (Yes, you must think of your reader as you write it, but that is different than your focus on selling it.)
Some people are writers, and some people will always plan to write, but something always gets in their way. Face it. They will never be up to the risk. It is only with creativity that one grows and learns. If you don’t want to write, then don’t. But don’t whine that you can’t be a writer because you’re too busy. Yeah. We all are. Make a choice. A committment.
I know writers who have written at 3 a.m. before their day jobs. They did it.
So can you.