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A Short Story Contest

I believe competition is healthy, so I’ve hosted a couple of story contests this past year. I like giving writers an opportunity to stretch their writing muscles in a local competition.  All the better if there’s money involved. Who doesn’t want a little extra cash in their pockets and some bragging rights, to boot.

I have a website called Indie Book Trailers & More, where I host these short story contests. This link will take you to the site, and give you information about how to enter your story. CLICK THIS LINK  What you’ll find out, if you follow the link, is that submissions are now open for short stories (no longer than 3,000 words) in any genre, and about any topic. I’m taking up to fifteen entries and the submission fee is $10 per entry.

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The Winter contest sponsor is Prairie Land Press, owned by Nancy Sharp Wagner. She has contributed $50 to the prize. There is only one winner, and the cash prize is the total of all entry fees plus the sponsor’s contribution. Therefore, if there are fifteen entries, then the prize will be $200. If there are only five entries, the prize will be $100.

I won’t personally participate in the judging of this competition, but will seek out four or five individuals who work in the field of writing. They will work independently of each other to read the entries. I’ll send these judges (yet to be selected) the stories sans the author’s names. The names of those who enter the competition won’t be listed until after judging.

When the winner is selected, he/she will be contacted and sent the prize money via Paypal. Then, I’ll announce the winner on the Indie Book Trailers & More website, and post a link to a PDF of the winning story. I’ll leave the story on the website for a month or more, giving the winner ample time to promote their win, and tell their readers where to go to read the story.

So, look through your work to see if you have something you’d like to enter, or send a link of this blog post to a writer you know who might be interested in entering one of their short stories. I looking forward to fifteen wonderful entries by talented authors from anywhere in the United States.

Many, many thanks to Prairie Land Press for sponsoring this competition. Nancy has wonderful books and resources for teachers on her website. She and I are proud to support and promote Nebraska authors!

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Dreams… Hugh Hefner… Newsletters…

I stirred from my dreams and opened my eyes to the morning, then tried to drift back into the story playing in my head. In my dream, I was hurrying through the streets of a city with my father. We’d left a large Catholic church and I was taking him to my car. We hadn’t left through the same door we’d entered, and I was a disoriented—couldn’t identify which side of the building we were on, therefore, couldn’t find my car.

In the dream, Dad walked briskly beside me. He was telling me how we had to get to the butcher to order his beef, and for my troubles of taking him, he wanted to give me half the beef. I told him a few steaks and some burger would be all I wanted. He gave me his smile… the one that belonged to only him. God, my dad had a great smile. I lingered on that moment in my dream… a moment of his generosity, my delight in helping him, his genuine joy.

Then he told me we had to go faster because he really had to pee. We were crossing a street, cars stopping for us, we were laughing, yet a little worried we wouldn’t make it in time. I felt bad I’d gotten us lost, and here the old man was doing his best to keep up and having to go to the bathroom to boot. I guess that’s when I woke up.

Never did get the man to a bathroom.

Oddly enough, right after I woke up, I started thinking about Hugh Hefner. What’s up with trains of thoughts when you wake up… am I right? No correlation whatsoever. Just had this weird and detailed mental epiphany about The Hef and his magazine, Playboy.

Well, after I toyed with the notion brewing in my brain, I got up, put on my silk robe, then took to my bed with my laptop to write it all out to see if indeed my thoughts did make sense because often, things prove or disprove themselves on the paper.

So, here’s my epiphany. Hugh Hefner was a journalist, albeit, a horny journalist. I’d even venture to say, a genius journalist. Maybe even a genius journalist with an agenda. An agenda to —

  1. Create a magazine that would achieve notoriety and a massive male readership.
  2. Sway the thinking of the male-driven world with articles, and ensure they were read. (And maybe even, ensuring women DIDN’T read them.

The whole, being a millionaire, wearing silk pajamas, and hanging out with beautiful women while living in a mansion was no more than the benefits thereof.

I imagine Hugh pondering how to go about achieving these goals. I can see him tapping his finger against his temple as he lolled about in bed, much as I was when this scheme occurred to me. Hugh thought, what kind of magazine can I publish that will ensure men will read my articles? Articles about politics and race and religion that could potentially sway their thinking… even their votes. 

Now, as a writer, I know it’s not easy to get people to read what you’re writing. I can pound out all my deep thoughts, my bright epiphanies, my dark wonderings, and here they sit on the stark white page just waiting, like a homely girl with a bad personality on prom night waits for a phone call.

So, there’s Hugh, and he thinks. Hey. What if I scatter articles throughout a magazine filled with pictures of naked women? 

Freaking genius.

Basically, he discovered this scheme which would instinctually make every man want to buy his magazine. Nothing sells like something taboo. In the same token, all the proper, upright women of the world would NOT buy the magazine, nor read the articles.

This is where I imagine Hugh steepling his index fingers and putting them to his lips. Hmmmm. My magazine would be like a men’s agenda, hiding in plain sight.

Of course, I’m having these ideas about Hugh Hefner’s clever ruse to rule the world and, quite honestly, I’ve never as much as read one article from Playboy. Maybe the articles were about how to properly trim a mustache, or how a fellow really knows when a girl loves him, or the quickest way to clean a rain gutter.

But I’m guessing that’s not the case.

After all, it was known far and wide that men only bought Playboy to read the articles. The old joke had to be founded in something concrete, right?

Now… keep in mind, it’s me thinking these thoughts. Keep in mind, this epiphany took maybe two minutes. I was dreaming about my father, I flashed onto Hef, I thought to myself, what a genius way to get your target market to read your articles! What a way for a writer to start a magazine!

Then poof! I thought, THIS. THIS! This is how I do my newsletter!!!

I make a Playboy of sorts, and hide my thought-swaying articles amidst pictures that will lure my target market to buy the magazine!!

And no. Not pictures of naked women. My target market isn’t men. It’s women. Mature women.

Stay with me…

I’ve long thought older women are who should be running the world. They’re caring and compassionate, yet resourceful, set on collaboration and solution, patient, kind. They’re grandmothers!

And what do Grandmothers love to look at!?!?!?!

Well, recipes, yes. Little poems, yes. Babies, yes. But above all… older women love CATS!!!

So, not Playboy. My stories will be buried like poo in a litter box among pictures of cats! I’d call it… Catlady!

As always, dreams and morning epiphanies seem like such great ideas. Pure genius. Right up until you write them down. Then you realize they were just silliness. Fluffy thoughts, breaking up like morning mist. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t something here I can use. Maybe, eventually, it’ll come to me. Until then, The Hef can rest in peace. I won’t be trying to capitalize on his genius. But I’m going to continue to wear my silk robe. It’s just damn comfortable! And there’s no denying. I really do like cats, and they do seem to be willing to pose provocatively.