Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Benefit of Contests

I have a new found love for entering contests for unpublished authors. I couldn’t believe that there were so many contests available. The reason I would recommend contests are because this can add weight to query letters. You can also  receive valuable feedback that will help you revise and learn to receive critiques in a helpful way. The drawbacks to entering are the fees, rules and if I must say the waiting time to find out who won! Some contests ask that you not shop your novel for a specified amount of time so make sure you read the fine print, and know the benefits and drawbacks to each contest you choose to enter. Here is a great table of contests created by author Stephie Smith. Also another list of contests can be found on the Funds for Writers website along with writing grant opportunities. 

The following list of companies/websites is from my own experience entering their contests (except for the Leap Frog and Amazon):

Romance Writers of America (RWA) has a cool and long list of contests from all their chapters for unpublished and published writers where romance is a part of the story. Below are 4 of the contests I liked the best because of the value I got from entering them. First Kiss/The Smooch (New England  &  Yosemite  Chapters) in which I missed the deadlines but so wanted to enter! Fool for Love Contest* (Virginia Chapter) in which I decided to revise my first edited draft of Destiny Chronicles based off of the fabulous critiques I received. And I also must mention the Great Beginnings Contest (Utah Chapter), Winter Rose Contest (Yellow Rose Chapter) and the Four Seasons Contest contests in which Golden Dreg Boy was a finalist in 2014.
Although these contests cost ($15-35 per entry) and for some you have to be a member of RWA, they are worth it. The RWA provides feedback from judges who are usually established authors, editors or agents. If an agent happens to read your work then you’ll get feedback from that agent (which is near impossible to get on your own) and in some cases they request partials or fulls of work they've read. Awards are usually contest winner logos, a gift card or a refund of contest fee.                                                                                                                                
Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is an annual award that gives the biggest cash prizes for the winners. 50,000 advance and publishing contract for grand prize inner and 15,000 royalty advance for finalists. Open for entries from February to March each year or until 10,000 entries is received, the winners are announced in August. Benefit: Hugely recognized contest and great platform (Amazon) for selling books. Drawbacks: Your entry is subject to each judges standards and likes on a particular day which means one round you might get through because a judge favors vampires and YA while if your entry was given to another judge they could be sick of both and pass. The contract is "standard" and as far as I know non-negotiable - which never favors both parties. but 50,000 that is an unheard of advance for a new debut author.
Writer's Digest is a great too because they have various categories to enter (crime, horror, sci-fi, romance, thriller, self-published, poetry). Usually you have to enter at the end of previous year to be eligible for their contests. The winner announcements seem to fall in May/June. Again there are fees for these contests as well. There are many awards and perks for just entering contest. 
The Great Novel Contest for unpublished authors by Columbus Creative Cooperative is a good contest to enter too for unpublished POLISHED novels. The prize is a contract or money (currently 1,000). The deadline is in the end of January for that year and there are fees as well. Winner receives choice of a Columbus Press publishing contract or a $1,000 cash prize and public recognition for their achievement                                            
Leap Frog Press has a contest for unpublished authors for Adult Fiction and Children's Fiction (middle grade and YA only). They accept "any novella- or novel-length work of fiction, including short-story collections, not previously published". Currently the cost is $30 and contest is open from January 15 to May 1. Awards for finalists are money, critiques from contest judges; permanent listing on the Leapfrog Press contest page. Winner gets a publication offer from Leapfrog Press, with an advance payment, plus the finalist awards.                  
Maine Media Workshops & College is a contest that is based on "Portraits and Stories that Reveal the Human Condition where writers, photographers and videographers are invited to share prose, poetry, pictures or a moment on video that reveals the essence of someone's life." This contest has one of the shortest time frames from entry time to the time it takes for the winner announced. (2014, enter June-Sept and winners announced in October.) Grand price is $1,000 (2014)! Currently the cost is $20.                                          
Chanticleer Book Review & Media has plenty of contests to offer. I was surprised because I only knew them as book reviewers. They even have an after NaNaWriMo writing competition. Currently the costs range from $15 - $45.                                          
Writers Type has 3 contests (flash fiction, short story and first chapter) which are offered quarterly (Jan - March 2 --- Apr - June 3 --- July - Sept 4 and Oct - Dec) giving writers 4 times a year to enter vs. most contests that offer only annual entries. "The winning author names, websites, and the text of their submissions are published on website". A contests top 6 ranked winners are automatically entered into annual contest. The benefit of entering these contests is for exposure.
Women on Writing (WOW) promotes the communications between women writers, authors, editors, agents, publishers and readers. They have a flash fiction contest which is offered quarterly (March-May, June-Aug, Sept-Nov, Dec-Feb). The prizes are pretty good and the fee is $10 ($20 if you buy a critique with it).

InkTears is a U.K. contest open to all. They hold 2 annual contests, one for flash fiction (runs until  July 31) and one for short stories (opens Aug 1). There are six prizes awarded by the InkTears judging panel: Winner: £250, Runner-up: £50 and 4x Highly Commended: £25 and the stories (*in print) and BIOs (*online) are *published. The benefit of entering these contests is for exposure.

Pipeline Contest 1st Annual Book Contest was first conducted In 2014. "Connecting authors and playwrights with Hollywood." They are searching for material "well-suited" for film or TV adaption. This contest is great if you own your rights and think you book/script has potential. Winners and finalists get airfare and entrance to Pipeline event where winner is announced, $1000 cash prize, meetings with 4 companies to discuss "further development'". Pipeline launched in 1999 for scripts and has launched the career of Snow White and Huntsman writer Evan Daugherty and they are responsible for the adaptions of major projects Divergent, Ninja Turtles and GI Joe 3. Also a short turnaround from entry to winner announcement (September 15th- November 15th). Currently the cost is $50. I decided to enter this contest because I figure if I can get a movie or TV deal then a book deal will definitely come AND I'll have much more control of the deal at that point. Backwards, I know but we don't all have to follow the traditional path to publishing.

The Benefit of Writing Groups

Before participating in Nanowrimo 2013, I was gung ho about writing by myself, secluded at home mostly. But since participating in Nanowrimo’s write-in's during November I've continued to participate in monthly and weekly writing groups that I absolutely love. I recommend joining one if you can; being around a community of writers is inspiring.

These are the benefits I have found with writing groups:

1. Support from like-minded individuals who love to write.

2. Gain other contacts for editors, publishers, websites, articles, etc. that come recommended.

3. Exchange critique for critique if you're brave enough.

4. Run by elements of your story for feedback/opinion.

5. Socialize!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Color in YA - Original article on Word for Teens Blog (7/14/13)

Color in YA - Great post on defunct blog WORD by Nicole about adding color to YA. Original article on Word for Teens Blog (7/14/13). This is not my work/writing and I am reposting only because I fully-heartedly agree with Nicole. As an African-American women who writes inclusive books featuring many nationalities, I hope soon that showing color in YA will be an accepted norm that finally reflects our world of color. Thank you, Nicole. (She also has a wonderful post about LGBTQ as well.)

On Saturday, George Zimmerman was declared not guilty of shooting and killing Trayvon Martin. Despite the fact that there was all evidence to the contrary, despite the fact that Zimmerman was expressly told not to go after Martin, and despite the fact that Martin had done absolutely nothing wrong, Zimmerman's shooting Martin because he was 'scared' meant that he got off scotch-free.

He even got his gun back.

I've been wanting to write a post on why it's important for YA to represent multiple ethnicities for a long time now.  On why, despite the fact that books with whitewashed covers still, it's important to show that there's as much racial diversity in the YA corner of the bookstore as there is in the world. On why writing stories and showcasing stories with people of color is important, not only to people of color, but to how the world around us operates.

People of color have different experiences from white people. They still have to fight racist tendencies and racist norms. They are more likely to be frisked in NYC for no reason. They are more likely to be killed or arrested. They can fire a gun to warn off an attacker, not hitting anybody, and still be sent to jail for more time as a man who brutally murdered a teenage boy.

They're told that they'll do less well in school because of something as inconsequential as the amount of pigment in their skin - or they're told that they'll do better and are shunned when they don't because of something as inconsequential as the amount of pigment in their skin.

And they are called names, offensive names and hurtful names and names I would never dare say because damn it, you don't dehumanize people like that.

You wanna know why I want more representation on covers and in books in the YA section? Because the more something is represented, the more accepted it is. And the less shit like this happens.

I have no funny lines today. I have no anecdotes, no links to Goodreads about books with protagonists who are people of color, no quotes from Twitter. All I have today is anger and shelves full of books with white faces.

And all I want is change.


Nanowrimo!!! 50,000 words or roughly 175-200 pages is considered a novel. Each November writers take the challenge of writing 50,000 words. I did and am proud to say I finished, I'm a winner! Well known novels with a 50,000 word count are: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (46,333 words), The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (52,000 words), The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (50,061 words), Lost Horizon by James Hilton, Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. Now if this isn’t enough motivation. I don't know what is. Yuraliso is my first nano creation and I made almost exactly the 50,000 word count on the last day of November 2013. I did this by reaching my word count goals daily but when I didn’t, I wrote to catch up. I finished editing the book with a professional in July 2014. I will enter nano for 2014 and this year I've managed to drag at least two more people into the contest too, so I'm super excited about that.
(50,000 word novels - Source: Wikipedia)/Nanowrimo)