Writing Competitions and Opportunities Digest – Edition 12

Limebird Writers post a list of contests and opportunities for writers. Search the archives for previous editions. Thanks, Limebird Writers.

Limebird Writers

Welcome to the 12th edition of our weekly selection of writing competitions and opportunities.

How would you like to be published in a magazine that has previously published original fiction by the likes of Thomas Hardy and F Scott Fitzgerald? You would? Then have a look at the first one below for details.

If you missed the last edition of our digest, you can view it here.

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Opportunity type – Short story competition.
Theme – Spring.
Word count – Up to 3,000 words.
Organiser/publisher – Harper’s Bazaar magazine.
Reward – “The winning entry will appear in the May 2014 issue. Its author will be able to choose a first-edition book from Asprey’s Fine and Rare Books Department to the value of £3,000 and enjoy a week-long retreat at Eilean Shona House, on the 2,000-acre private island off the west coast of Scotland where JM Barrie wrote his screenplay for…

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Another fine mess…

Did you know that when you edit a monthly newsletter, you have to produce a newsletter every single month?

Well, you do.

You don’t publish an August issue and then just rest on your laurels.

 

In thirty days–fewer than that in February–another month rolls around, and you’re supposed to come up with something new. People expect it. They don’t want to read about last month.

Truly, there is no rest for the weary. Or for the wicked.
I am wicked.
I moan and whinge about the drudgery–Double, double toil and trouble–but once I start working, I also start having fun. I lose track of time. The latest issue missed my self-imposed deadline not just because the computer fell by the wayside, but because I kept tweaking: a link here, a comma there, delete this, insert that, bold this, italicize that, change black to red, red to black.
Eye of newt, toe of frog, wool of bat, tongue of dog…

 With fire burning and cauldron bubbling, and so many poisoned entrails, as well as thesaurus.com, at my disposal, I didn’t want to call it quits. Once again, I stayed up later than late, but I wasn’t laboring. I was playing. Concocting a brand new potion. Elixir. Charm. Beguilement.

If you want the pure, unadulterated version of my writing process, there it is.

And in a couple of weeks, it’s back to the cauldron again.

This time, though, there’s potential for sanity.

For the past couple of months, the assistant editor and I have been running as fast as we could to stay in the same place. Before the next issue comes out, we’re going to meet, discuss goals, nail down a format. I’ll show her what I can about using WordPress. She’ll come up with more good ideas. I’ll write them down so I won’t forget.

After we confer, the whingeing could abate.

But it won’t.

Because, contrary to decades of experience, I think I can do everything in five minutes.

Because my brain kicks in–really–at the last minute.

Because I do my best work–really–between 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.

Because I have these flashes of cock-eyed optimism that temporarily override my normally rational, pessimistic nature.

Because I like to whinge.

I mean, what do you think those Weird Sisters were doing, stirring that cauldron, waiting for Macbeth to wander in for a consultation? They were whingeing. It’s a good Scottish word, and they were Scottish Sisters, and, no matter how much pleasure they derived from their culinary endeavour, they’d been standing over a hot stove all night. Furthermore, quality frog toes aren’t easy to come by. What’s not to whinge about.

So expect no change. Proper prior planning may prevent weariness, but it won’t improve my character.

I’m wicked. And it’s comfortable. And I think it’s what I want to be.

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Move over, Cyd Charisse

I received a phone call last week from Lucia Zimmitti, an editor who spoke at the Texas Trail Writers Roundup this spring. In mid-July, I’d sent her the first five pages of my manuscript. She reported that she’d read them and that they’re ready for query. She said she believes agents who read them will ask to see more.

Music to my ears. I was reluctant to tell her how long I’ve worked and how many revisions it’s taken to get those five pages agent-ready. Lucia said not to worry about time, that some novels are ten years in the making. Actually, it’s the ten years part that worries me, but I know it’s going to take as long as it takes.

After discussing specifics, Lucia asked how much more I have.

A pile of pages. A stack of scenes. Words, words, words, but not in order.

I described where I am in the process and told her how I work. She said not to worry.

When I hung up the phone, I was tempted to dance around the apartment.  But I didn’t. My feeling of ecstasy wasn’t pure. It was an alloy, producing calm rather than chaos.

It’s good when people like what I’ve written. But having a professional say those pages show promise is more than good. It’s validating. It means the time, the effort, the embarrassing, sick-making drafts aren’t wasted.

It means that when people ask what I do, I can drop the self-mocking half-smile, the apologetic, “I’m working on a novel. But of course, EVerybody in Austin is working on a NOvel.” I can look them in the eye and say, “I write.” I can remove the quotation marks from “novel.”

I’m tempted here to insert the usual disclaimer: It’s only five pages. I haven’t completed the manuscript. The five present-perfect are future-imperfect–because, with all the twists and turns of drafting, they will have to be tweaked.

But I won’t apologize. Hearing Lucia’s assessment of the intro to Chapter One changed how I perceive both my writing and myself. I’m no longer a dilettante. I’m a writer. I have goals to meet, a manuscript to finish, and no room for excuses.

Figurative language isn’t my forte, but to clarify, I’ll give it a shot.

It’s like when I was ten years old and my Uncle Donald took me out to a pasture in his beat-up 1950 Chevy pickup and taught me to drive. I started out popping the clutch (“Let it out sloooow.“), grinding the gears (“Put in the CLUTCH!”), killing the engine (“Give it some GAS!”), turning the key, popping the clutch, jolting the passenger, bouncing across old furrows. But after a few lessons I got the hang of it and was driving along the turn row, changing gears without incident.

A couple of months later, my father put me behind the wheel of a ’56 Bel Air, which had fewer gears and no clutch at all, and let me drive home from the farm (“Don’t rush up to the stop sign, eeease up to it.”) In due time, I got my license and soon was cruising down the freeway, feeling like a driver.

After I’d invested time, energy, and angst wrestling with the clutch and grinding the gears, finally holding that license brought not only satisfaction but also a feeling of maturity.

The future won’t be a joyride. There will be (here comes the disclaimer) traffic jams and detours and wrong turns down one-way streets. And worse. Like the time I was on my way to the university and my car slid on a patch of once-in-a-decade Texas ice and landed in the ditch facing the wrong direction, right across from my father’s workplace. (“I told you to go slow.” “I DID. I was just doing 50.”)

When Lucia and I finished speaking, it was as if she’d handed me a license to write. I felt settled. Serene. Competent. Equipped for the task at hand.

Cyd Charisse, move over. I feel a dance coming on.

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Lucia Zimmitti is president and founder of Manuscript Rx.

P.S.  I did not try to perfect the first five pages before moving on. I obsess and compulse, but not to that extent.