I missed last week's blog challenge due to an unpredictable schedule determined by the needs and requests of my parents. I'm visiting them for a few weeks while Mom recuperates from hip replacement surgery.
So this week's writing prompt concerns writing contests. I've entered a few in my time. Just a few.
Around 30 years ago, I entered a national writing contest sponsored by Otherworlds magazine which I only saw sold at Waldenbooks. This was, of course, before the (public) internet and before my hometown lost all its "new book" bookstores. (We still have a couple of secondhand bookstores.) I submitted a short story. (Either "Silence" or "Dragonspawn," I can't remember which.) It won. Giddy with joy, I haunted that bookstore, waiting to see my story in print. I received a Dungeons & Dragons chess set--which I still have. Even my kids think that's pretty damned cool. And I received three D&D tee shirts. I still have (and wear) those, too. I never did see that Otherworlds issue with my story published in it.
That contest validated my ambition to be an author; it offered proof that I could write a good story.
Fast forward to 2017 and three more contests, two sponsored by Authors Talk About It and the other by Chanticleer. Unlike the old Otherworlds contest, these charged entry fees.
I didn't win either of them. ATAI loved my entry, The Falcon of Imenotash. I blogged about that. Their flattering review is linked on this website's home page and I use it in marketing. ATAI didn't like the cover design, which is pretty much what kept the book from reaching that coveted 5-star rating and being a real contender for the grand prize. Too bad.
ATAI's mixed review of Ulfbehrt's Legacy conflicts with reader reviews. They didn't like the cover design on that book either. Obviously, cover design ain't my forte as far as ATAI is concerned.
The entry fee for Chanticleer's contest was more than twice the fee for the two ATAI entries. I don't know what they thought of my book, because they took my money and I never heard back from them, not even with a critical review. That struck me as dishonest and a painful lesson learned. I won't be going back to them for anything. I have much the same criticism about many book review sites.
Subjective by nature, writing contests offer validation desired by the authors who win them; however, I prefer to receive validation from clients and readers. Those who appreciate my work will buy it.
Disembodied screams woke him. Before he hardly recognized what he was doing, he found himself in the doorway of his sister’s bedroom.
“Hush!” Tabetha hissed at him as she wrapped her arms around her friend who whimpered like a kicked puppy. Zoe’s eyes were wide open, but unfocused.
“What’s wrong?” he asked hoarsely, the young woman’s distress making his heart pound inside his chest. He practically vibrated with the need to hold her, to gather her close to his body and shield her from whatever terrorized her dreams. And then he’d give her greater pleasure than she’d ever known.
“She has nightmares,” Tabetha answered and rocked Zoe back and forth, murmuring childish nonsense to her in a soft, sing-song voice.
“She won’t talk about it. They’ve have been less frequent these past several months, but I suppose recent stress stirred up whatever lurks in her memories.” She sighed. “Sometimes she cries out his name, but I’m never sure if he’s her tormentor or rescuer.”
“What can I do?” Lars asked, wondering who “he” was.
“Go back to bed, Lars. She’ll be fine for the rest of the night.”
“I’ll sit here for a while longer.”
Tabetha shook her head and said wearily, “She’s not yours, Lars.”
“She will be.”
“Oh, God, not you, too,” she groaned.
“Please tell me you don’t believe Dad’s ‘pow’ theory of love at first sight.”
“I didn’t until today,” Lars admitted sheepishly. He reached over and ruffled his sister’s hair. “You’ll find your true love.”
“I’m not looking for him, that’s for sure. I have things I want to do with my life before settling down with a husband and popping out babies.” She looked at her friend, now sleeping peacefully. “I think she has plans, too, that don’t involve marriage and children.”
“Plans can be changed.”
“Oh, you’re such an obstinate man,” she grumbled and threw a decorative pillow at him. He caught it.
“Go back to your room and go to sleep. And keep your hands and dick to yourself.”
Lars tossed the pillow back and reluctantly rose from the trundle bed. He cast one last concerned glance at his sister’s roommate and returned to his own room, making a mental note to investigate her background. If she wouldn’t tell him, then he’d find out what haunted her through other channels.
While I have the time, I'll add this week's blog.
First, the publishing update: You already know that Daughter of the Deepwood e-book goes live on March 31. Now the print format is available for pre-order as well. The print copy price is $8.99--no more than if you purchased it off the bookstore shelf.
Second, an update on Mom: She came home from the hospital on Thursday. Thursday evening was rough, really rough. Mom now spends her days and nights in her recliner. I started sleeping on the sofa near her chair, ready-to-hand if she needed me. Physical therapy started today.
One thing we hadn't really considered post-surgery was clothing. Unable (and forbidden) to bent more than 90 degrees at the waist, putting on pants (or shoes or socks) isn't an option. I brought two of the sari wrap skirts from Darn Good Yarn with me. She loves them. They're easy to put on, easy to fit, preserve her modesty, and pretty. Don't discount pretty. When you're in pain, tired, and generally feel like crap, something pretty lifts your spirits. She also appreciates being properly dressed instead of greeting people in her pajamas. She ordered three. My husband shipped the rest of my sari wrap skirts and now she has five to wear until her three are delivered.
I identified a new market for these skirts: women who have had "below the waist" surgery.
Third, the next book: I've done nothing on any work-in-progress since arriving in South Carolina. Frankly, I'm barely keeping up with the ongoing client work I do have. (Right now, I'm prospecting for short-term editing projects.) That doesn't mean my mind isn't always mulling over ideas and I've got the glimmer of a story line for the third book in the Twin Moons Saga. If it sees daylight, it will be ... interesting. Enders will, of course, make a cameo appearance. But this book will focus on the deposed and reputedly insane king of the Unseelie Court. Interested?
To my current clients, especially those to whom I owe content, I have restarted work on your projects.
Fourth: The weather in South Carolina has been really nice. Yesterday, my sister-in-law took me out for the afternoon. I admit to feeling a bit stir crazy. We had lunch at Olive Garden, then went shopping. I bought shoes and wine. She bought a bottle of rose lemonade, which is light, sweet, and strangely refreshing when served over ice. The weather was glorious: above 70 degrees F and sunny. We took advantage of that by driving my brother's convertible with the top down.
And that's it for this week.