Thursday, May 13, 2010

Contests and Such

Lately I've been hearing a lot about writing contests. They're everywhere. And while some of them are hidden, sneakily deemed some other name, ultimately it's about making your work stand out over someone else's. I hate to say it, but I was never one to throw myself into a million little contests with the hope of coming out on top in at least one. My theory is, if you want to write something worthwhile, something that will intrigue the reader, you've got to put your whole heart into it. That said, you're free to enter every contest known to man. And sure, people who do probably have a leg up on the publishing front because they have some accreditation. I know when an agent gets back to me on a novel saying he/she's interested, one of the first questions I get asked is, "So what's your online platform and credentials?" As you can see, I'm working my butt off on this online platform. (And I'm actually in the process of making myself a portfolio website on Adobe Dreamweaver, but I'm a bit rusty, so it's slow-going). The credentials, though? Not much outside of my experience as a staff writer on JMU's student newspaper and (starting this fall) the yearbook. Our yearbook is a pretty big accomplishment though. At nearly 400 pages, hardcover, it could do serious damage if you dropped it out a window. Not that I'm planing on doing that.

Anyway, back to the contests. If you have interest, I've got several for you. My goal is to enter the first one, as soon as I choose a novel worth entering. Here they are:

1. The Next Big Writer's The Strongest Start Novel Competition 2010 - With a main category and three sub-genres, you're sure to find a place for your work. And it's forum-style, so while you wait eagerly for a response from the contest's host, you'll get feedback from others in the competition. And, here's the kicker: you don't have to have the manuscript completed. Which for me, is like saying, "Yeah, Kaleigh, pull one of those awesome 25-pagers out of the trash and give me a little more work, a little more dedication, and you're golden." Golden. What's not to love?

2. Writer's Digest always has a Your Story prompt, calling for up to a 750-word submission. It's annual. But this spin-off competition caught my eye. For all your photographers out there, this visual prompt calls for an opening sentence based on the image, using "ten" (10?) in the sentence somewhere. Have at it, kids.

Oh, and another reason I'm a fan of that one? You need one great sentence. First sentences are hit or miss with me. I flip through a book, look at the first sentence, and make a decision to buy/rent/borrow it based on that most of the time.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I don't think you can consider me an author by any stretch of the imagination. I have one and a half books and a smattering of Word documents that are great in theory, really, but don't get past page twenty. I'm not published (yet), and my fan base consists of friends and family who all love me dearly and would tell me my writing was the best thing they'd ever read even if they'd rather use the manuscript as a door stop. But that doesn't mean I'm not a writer.

To say I know the exact moment I became a writer would be wonderful, because then I'd have an awesome story to tell, but I'm not making something up just so I'm more marketable. I will say this though. I'm not your average kid. There's times I'm driving and something pops in my head, a "perfect" sentence or thought or idea, and I'm struggling to remember it because I don't have pen or paper. And I don't think linearly all the time. I'm sitting in class but I'm not always there in my head. Not that I'm not focused or disciplined, but there's times my imagination or my creative juices take over. And for those of you who don't write, who've never felt that way, I just want you to know that you're missing out. Those are the best times.

So here's to writing for writing's sake. And not having to label it, but knowing that there's something unique about you. That you might not be normal. Embrace it for all it's worth.