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Writing conferences help writers

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.'s short story collection

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.’s short story collection

This country’s crazy in terms of fame and what people think it means. They expect a writer to be something between a Hollywood starlet and the village idiot.

– Kent Haruf

Last weekend I attended the Bloody Words mystery writing conference at a hotel in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was Bloody Words’ 13th conference since 1999, but it is also their last. Bloody you-know-what. As an author I’ve found Bloody Words to be very helpful, the other authors just as weird (we are crime writers, after all) as me. And friendly and helpful. Two years ago at Bloody Words, I received a lot of encouragement and help for my mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point. And at that time it was accepted for publication by Blue Denim Press but I hadn’t yet signed the contract, although I had a copy and was reading through it. I was also rewriting some of the short stories for the publisher. From this conference, among other things, I found a book reviewer for an Ontario city newspaper, for Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. and my police consultant, also a mystery novelist (police procedures from the constable’s viewpoint), Brent Pilkey. Brent helped me sort out some police procedure and crime scene difficulties in two of those not-yet-finished short stories.

Fast forward to this year’s conference. My first novel, Beyond Blood, the prequel mystery to four linked stories in Beyond the Tripping Point, is being published this fall by Blue Denim Press. This time the contract is signed and the manuscript final is with the publisher. I also moderated a panel on short stories, Are short stories the new black? which went over well – lots of positive feedback, not only from the panellists but from the audience – there was good rapport among us all during the panel discussion. And I kept us on time – my big bugaboo with running panels. But it helped that for once I didn’t have a panellist who talked too much at a time. Ditto the audience with questions and comments. Great way to share info.

But one of the big pros with this conference is another way to help a writer – in a closer way. One of my editing clients also has his first mystery novel (first published work even) being published by Blue Denim Press in the fall. The editor at Blue Denim Press is calling it Blue Murder and my client, who is also a writing colleague and friend for 18 years,  and I will be doing some publicity under the Blue Murder from Blue Denim Press “banner.” So, I introduced my colleague to many other published authors and we asked questions about PR in different areas of Canada. I introduced him to one of the Crime Writer of Canada executive and she made it her business to get him signed up for CWC – because doing readings with CWC authors at various outlets is good for exposure and we might even sell a few books. I also introduced him to the book critic at Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine who sat at the table next to us during the Saturday evening banquet. He was there with the Hammett (as in the late great mystery author Dashell Hammett – remember The Maltese Falcon?) awards also presented in conjunction with BW. He stated when he needs the books for reviews and in what format. So, he may do book reviews of our books. Also learned a few places to go in Montreal for readings, and I finally joined the Toronto branch of Sisters in Crime who are really good about promoting their author-members’ books and readings.

So all this networking and the panels (I did attend others) were also learning experiences. Among other things I learned that my short stories help other writers with the techniques in their short stories, how other authors create their characters, and had a lot of fun.

More information on Bloody Words is at http://2014.bloodywords.com/

Remember the two mystery novels coming out this October 2014 from Blue Denim Press:

Dead Wrong, a medical mystery set in Boston and Toronto by my friend and colleague Klaus Jakelski who is also a doctor in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada and Beyond Blood, a mystery with the two fraternal twin PIs Dana Bowman and Bast Overture by Sharon A. Crawford. More anon on these as we get closer to the publication date.

And as a follow-up to last week’s posts on writing contests I will be posting a link each week to another writing contest. Here is this week’s, which also has a writers’ and readers’ celebration in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada

Word Northumberland
Saturday, October 25, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The writing contest is just below the celebration deets.
http://spiritofthehills.org/word-northumberland/

Meantime, you can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com. The book is available there in print and Kindle. For Kobo e-book go to http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/beyond-the-tripping-point or go to any bricks and mortar store and order in a print copy. Spread the word.
More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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Writing Contests a way to get fiction published

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.'s short story collection

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.’s short story collection

The real contest is always between what you’ve done and what you’re capable of doing. You measure yourself against yourself and nobody else.

– Geoffrey Gaberino

Short Story Writing Contests are a good way for fiction writers to break into getting published. Some of you may think it is a catch-22 situation but hear me out.

There are many short story writing contests – online or in print. They are run by writing organizations, magazines (particularly literary magazines), newspapers (the Toronto Star annual short story contest is well known), libraries, corporate organizations (such as airlines), etc. Most are open to any writer, although some are age specific (not discriminating, but more as an outlet for youth or younger and/or budding writers).

Which brings me to submission rules. Ah, here is the catch. You can’t just submit any old story of any old length in any old form. Some entries will accept electronic and even have an online form to insert your story. Some, including the Toronto Star, want hard copies. For the latter the entry date is the mailing date. And for some (I have done this for Toronto Star entries) you can roar down to their address at the last minute to hand it in. The Toronto Star has a convenient closed bin with a slot for this purpose. Keep the contest deadline in mind.

Most contests have maximum lengths for their stories. That doesn’t usually include your name and address. But for print it is usually double-spaced and what you put at the top for your running head can vary. If the stories are being blind-judged (judges don’t know the writers’ names with the stories) you better not have your name anywhere in the story itself – including the running head – or it will be disqualified. Don’t worry. They’ll keep track of you as you do a title page with your name and story title. And you do put the story title with your story entry and in the running head. Don’t forget to number your pages and double-space them or whatever the entry requirements are.

One more big rule. Many contest rules state this but even if they don’t – NEVER enter the same story in the more than one contest at the same time. I know of one case where one writer did – one to the Toronto Star and the Canadian Authors Toronto Branch contest. She won (not necessarily first place) for both, but the organizations involved did not take kindly to it. I don’t think she was disqualified, but that could happen. At the very least it could blacklist the writer, at least with the two contest organizers. The rule here is – once you get word from the contest organizer that you didn’t win, place or show, then you can enter your story elsewhere. Often the notification isn’t a blunt “sorry, but you didn’t win,” but a list of those who did win.

Some writing contests have an entry fee; some don’t. Many writers go by the rule of not entering unless they can do for free. My take is maybe pay a fee of up to $30 if the contest organizer is a literary magazine. Most literary magazines give any entrants (winners or not) a “free” one-year subscription to their magazine. The yearly cost is usually around the contest-entry fee. Outside of that you might want to give yourself a limit in what you will pay – especially if you are a prolific story writer and want to enter several contests.

Just visit Mr. Google for short story contests worldwide. For those in Canada writing instructor and editor Brian Henry offers for sale a calendar of all the writing contests (not just short story) in Canada. Go to Brian’s blog at http://quick-brown-fox-canada.blogspot.ca/ You can email him to subscribe to a monthly e-newsletter and to purchase the calendar at Brian Henry brianhenry@sympatico.ca.

I’m attending the dinner at one writing conference (MagNet) and also the big she-bang at Bloody Words Mystery Writing conference, both in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. At the latter, I will be moderating a panel on short stories at Bloody Words. Fodder for another post.

Meantime, you can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com. The book is available there in print and Kindle. For Kobo e-book go to http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/beyond-the-tripping-point or go to any bricks and mortar store and order in a print copy. Spread the word.

More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html
Sharon A. Crawford’s prequel novel Beyond Blood, featuring the fraternal twins will be published fall 2014 by Blue Denim Press. Stay tuned.
Cheers.
Sharon A. Crawford

 

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