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.
Daughter of the Deepwood
Book 2 in the Twin Moons Saga
Lifetime imprisonment for an immortal doesn’t bear consideration. As cold iron burns his skin and dampens his magic, fae captain Falco wrenches power and freedom from the broken body of another prisoner—a witchbreed female—tossed into his cell to make room for a new harvest of criminals. Honor and obligation mandate that he not abandon her.
Unable to heal her extensive injuries, he takes the dying witchbreed to the heart of the Great Forest where the most ancient magic lives. His plea granted, the woman is remade of a blend of his blood, her flesh, and deep magic. Bound by his debt, Falco takes Calista as his mate when he returns home to Froúrio Daimónafae, a sentient fortress-city carved from a mountain. Although he regrets his intended fae mate’s anger, his increasing affection and desire for his witchbreed mate surprise him.
Lost in a foreign culture, spurned by the fae, her body unfamiliar to her, and unable to believe in Falco’s professed affections, Calista makes her own destiny and realizes the fate of an unfriendly nation rests upon her shoulders.
“I am beyond healing,” she said. “Let me die.”
“No,” he growled and the power in his soul flared brightly. “You can be healed, and I will not let you die.”
“I cannot remove the manacles.”
“You won’t have to,” he whispered and dreaded what he must do. “Are you still bleeding?”
She twitched. “Yes, but—”
“Where?” he demanded.
Terror wiped all expression from her dirty face. She closed her eyes and sank into whatever dark place she went when the horror and disappointment of her circumstances grew too much to bear.
Saturday I flew down to South Carolina and moved in temporarily with my parents. I checked my luggage, which the TSA promptly opened and rummaged through. I'll be here for four weeks.
The move happened upon request. My mother had surgery yesterday. The Friday before, my father had some sort of cardiac procedure done. I'm here to take care of them. Dad's looking pretty good. He's toddling around--slowly. In the hospital yesterday, we requisitioned a wheelchair and I pushed him wherever he needed to go. Mom's surgery went well, although issues arose from the anesthesia. I expect her to be discharged from the hospital tomorrow (Wednesday). Then the fun begins.
Rehab. Physical therapy. I don't envy my mother, because that's going to hurt.
In the meantime, I'll do what work I can. I notified all my clients, so they won't be surprised when they don't hear from me. And now I've notified you. Don't expect much over the next four weeks, because I'll be otherwise occupied. I will make sure that Daughter of the Deepwood is released, though. No postponement.
Cheers for now.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
Looking for a place to swap blogs? Holly Bargo at Hen House Publishing is wanting to Blog Swaps in 2018. For more information: