Category Archives: Contests, Grants and Awards

Cutest Dual-language Picture Book!

English-Spanish Hardcover resizedJuvenile author Wendy Gilhula has sent me a copy of her debut work. Pika Bunny and the Thunderstorm has some of the sweetest illustrations I’ve seen in a long time!

Gilhula and I worked together some years ago on prose and poetry she had written. The ideas she had just would not let her go. One of them was a series of stories about a bunny named Pika.

Pika Bunny explores the world and illustrates the most touching elements of the parent-child relationship. After Gilhula put her ideas down on paper, she found a publisher who wanted not just one of the works, but several.

Today she is celebrating because Pika Bunny has found life in several formats. The debut story is available in paperback and hardbound versions. There are also English-only and Spanish-English editions, for a total of four versions!

When I received my copy, I reread the story that had demanded the author’s time and focus. Pika Bunny is frightened by a thunderstorm. Then he learns all the good things about rain and thunder. Pika Bunny triumphs over his fear!

PikaBedWashFrom the first page, I really was taken in by the illustrations. Adrianna Allegretti is the illustrator here.

Like most children’s books, the illustrations stay focused on the characters. In a few places, however, Allegretti opts to draw only the storm or other elements of nature.

The combination of the characters in nature, in their cozy interior spaces, and the ones that allow nature to roam free across the page lend this work a particular feeling readers will love.

One of the coolest things about Pika Bunny is that the work is available in a dual-language version. The story is told in Spanish and English, with the same text running in both languages on the same page.

The work has been nominated for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s (SCBWI’s) Golden Kite Award. 

Of special note is the dedication in the front of the book. Gilhula thanks a number of individuals, all by listing their first names and the first initial of their last name. These are all kids who were her beta readers!

She wanted to honor the contributions of these dedicated fans. And here she has, while also preserving their identities and therefore their safety.

Want more of this cuteness and sweet words? Tune in next week for an interview with author Wendy Gilhula!

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Interview with Jendi Reiter, Author and Cofounder of WinningWriters.com

Winning_Writers_logoToday we have a real treat. Jendi Reiter, one of the cofounders of WinningWriters.com, set aside a generous amount of time to answer some burning questions. The site and its newsletter are fantastic resources for authors of every type. It was great to be able to ask about their mission and how authors can get help just by signing up to their free newsletter.

Best of all, two of her books are currently on sale! So, after reading all about the newsletter and the great resources, you can snap up copies for yourself. Links are at the bottom of this post!

You started Winning Writers back in 2001 with Adam Cohen. Now you have quite a staff, each of whom handle different areas or programs. How do you find such great people?

Thanks for the kind words about our amazing assistant editors and judges. A great thing about being an online business is that we can work with freelancers from all over the country—or the world!

We found two of our Best Free Literary Contests database editors, including our current editor Samantha Dias, through the Western New England Editorial Freelancers’ Network. Sam is diligent, creative, detail-oriented, and proactive about brainstorming ways to improve the database. Find her on LinkedIn for your academic editing jobs, but don’t take her away from us!

Several of our past and current contest judges were prizewinners in those same contests. We invited them because they were already in tune with the contest’s aesthetic, and the skill level of their own work gave us confidence in their ability to recognize quality entries.

Others were local writer friends, such as award-winning poet Ellen LaFleche, or friends of friends—we joke that one of our babysitters is the Winning Writers HR director because she’s recommended several people we ended up hiring. Nearly everyone in Northampton is a writer or knows a writer, it seems!

Additionally, we reach out to subscribers whose work we admire, like 2017 fiction and essay judge Judy Juanita, and contacts that I’ve made through my poetry and fiction publications, like poetry contest judge Soma Mei Sheng Frazier, who was the editor of OSA Enizagam when one of my stories won their contest.

WW offers several contests every year with significant prizes. What is the thought process behind taking on so many contest programs, considering that most arts organizations offer only one?

Something for everybody! We’re always tweaking our contest offerings in response to perceived demand and the gaps we see in the marketplace. The free Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest is fun to judge, generates signups for our email list, and originally also had a scam-busting mission. (The vanity contest that inspired it has since gone out of business—we must be powerful!) There aren’t many contests for parody and humor poems, and the few that exist tend to prefer G-rated light verse that isn’t super original, in my opinion.

Everyone loves a good general-interest poetry and prose contest, so those are consistent earners for us, with over a thousand entries apiece in a good year. The North Street Book Prize for self-published books is meant to signal-boost great books that don’t have the insider connections and marketing budget to compete with major publishers in the marketplace.

Self-published, indie, and print-on-demand (POD) books are often at a disadvantage or straight-up ineligible for prestigious literary prizes. Meanwhile, the book awards programs that do welcome indies have large fees and frequently no cash prize—what are you paying for? We believe indie authors deserve better.

Your section on Contests and Services to Avoid is set up for very good reasons. I have noticed that a number of good organizations are suddenly demanding that authors who submit–whether they win, place, or are simply part of the ones who never make any short- or longlist–give them rights to publish part or all of their work. Often these nonprofits claim that the publications will help support the organization and their contests. What do you think of this approach, when it is taken by an otherwise respectable organization?

I am completely against this approach. No author should have to sign away their intellectual property merely for the privilege of entering a contest. If you don’t win or get published, the work you submitted to the contest is stuck in limbo—you can’t try to make money off it elsewhere, on the off chance that this contest will someday use it. At that point the contest starts to look like a scam to acquire a lot of free work from authors, instead of paying freelancers to contribute to their website or journal.

I especially dislike this trend when the contest advertises itself as “free” up front, and the rights grab is hidden in the long list of rules. I always push back against this when contest sponsors ask to be listed in the database, and I’m happy to report that sometimes they change the rules.

What, in your opinion, is the best part of heritage (i.e., traditional) publishing today?

Access to major distribution and marketing channels is an important advantage that will continue as long as reviewers, booksellers, and other gatekeepers persist in their prejudice against print-on-demand and self-published books.

Best part of the indie route?

More control over the content and book design. Not having to shop your manuscript around for years to an agent or traditional publisher.

What do you enjoy most about working on WW?

People send me free books! I get paid (more or less) to read interesting poetry and prose and to think critically about what makes it work, or not work. This is good for my development as a writer. I also love the opportunity to connect with writers and editors around the world.

What part would you like to see become easier, or larger, or farther-reaching?

We would like to see a more diverse entry pool for all of our contests. Except for the book prize, they’re all judged anonymously, but white ladies somehow end up in the majority in our winners’ lists. We’re working on our outreach to minority writers’ communities, as well as inviting judges from different backgrounds to join our contest staff.

What exciting things are in the pipeline for WW?

By popular demand, we’re adding two new categories to our 2018 North Street Book Prize for self-published books: poetry and children’s picture books. The other categories are creative nonfiction/memoir, literary fiction, and commercial/genre fiction.

Our 2018 final judge for the Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest will be Dennis Norris II. He is a 2017 MacDowell Colony Fellow, fiction editor of Apogee Journal, and co-host of the podcast Food 4 Thot, a brilliant (NSFW) series with four multiethnic gay poets discussing literature and their love lives.

Jendi Reiter is the co-founder of WinningWriters.com, an online resource site for creative writers, named one of the “101 Best Websites for Writers” (Writer’s Digest, 2015-2016) and one of the “100 Best Websites for Writers” (The Write Life, 2016).

TN C 11 02Jendi’s award-winning books include the poetry collection Bullies in Love (Little Red Tree Publishing) and the novel Two Natures (Saddle Road Press), the spiritual coming-of-age story of a NYC fashion photographer during the 1990s AIDS crisis. Two Natures is on sale for 99 cents in Kindle and iBooks editions through October 15, 2017.

WW Newsletter: Thanks for your interest in Winning Writers! Sign up for the free monthly e-newsletter to receive access to The Best Free Literary Contest database, and join 96,000 Twitter followers.

 

Giveaway: Amazon Gift Card & Book Swag

Head’s up, everyone! Kim Peterson, an urban fantasy/paranormal romance author who was highlighted for great book sale prices here and here, has sweetened the deal. Now she’s offering a signed copy of Angels & Vixens, an Angels & Vixens tote bag, and a $20 Amazon gift card.

Go here to take advantage of this great giveaway. Hurry! The deal runs for only 13 more days!

Book Review: Reparation

I’m sharing this book review that came in for Reparation, my latest novel. It won Honorable Mention in a contest, and this is what the judge had to say. A description of the story is pasted below the review.

[The] language has a well-crafted poetry, an impression that is immediate and indelible. And [the] backstory is quick-moving…so heartbreaking.

This continuing balance between old ways and modern life is a fascinating tension. Manitou’s character grows and grows in complexity [while the] hero [goes] through absolute hell. It’s a huge and compelling struggle.

Just a beautifully written book. The theme is endlessly compelling and I enjoy the genuineness of the cultural knowledge. It’s a fascinating fusion of forms and, when it comes down to it, a hugely suspenseful thriller with a fascinatingly complex villain.

–Writer’s Digest Judge, 4th Annual Self-Published Ebook Awards

Shortlisted for Three National Fiction Awards

In this compulsive novel that marries the spirit stories of Louise Erdrich (The Round House) with the fantasy tinged realism of Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, a short vacation turns into a sinister game to save a sister.

“Whatever is dangerous, let me do it…I am supposed to die.”

The words from an ancient warrior’s song ring through the centuries to find Aidan Little Boy, a Lakota Sioux man intent on rescuing his sister from a religious cult.

When Aidan Little Boy visits his sister at her church’s South Dakota headquarters, he hopes the minister’s reputation as a faith healer is real. But Gidgee Manitou is something far more powerful…and more dangerous.

As the Reparation ceremony draws near, secrets long buried rise to the surface like souls plucked from their graves. The ghosts of warriors past chant the sacred Tokala song, telling Aidan that in this battle, lives must be lost to save the innocents.

A profoundly moving story about the abiding love between siblings and the strength of romantic love, Reparation is both a gripping page-turner and an emotionally charged journey through the brittle first tendrils of love into the power–and destructive capabilities–of love in its many forms.

 

Wattpad YA Contest

A group of authors with debut novels launching in 2015 called the Freshman Fifteens has teamed up with online writing community Wattpad for a writing contest. Entries are open now.

The Common Room Teen Mentoring Contest will pair 15 winning authors aged 13 to 19 with a member of the Freshman Fifteens. The established authors will mentor the teens through the writing and publishing process. The 15 winning entries will also be published in Common Room, an anthology being put out by Wattpad in January 2015.

This is a great chance for adults who are in the lives of teens to encourage their writing dreams. I’ve had the chance to work with teenagers through Writer’s Resource, and every time it has been a fantastic, high-energy experience. My clients, although young, achieved publication, and it changed their lives. Help out your best teen pal by telling them about this contest!

Kirkus Offers Three $50K Prizes

Kirkus Reviews, one of the best-known outlets for book reviews, has created three new literary awards. Each carries a $50,000 prize, and are among the largest cash awards in the literary world.

The categories will award one prize each to fiction, nonfiction, and juvenile books. Only books that have received a starred review in the magazine will be eligible. Since the magazine has included self-published works for a while, and is now integrating self-pub reviews into the reviews of traditionally published books, this is a great opportunity for the best books to shine.

World’s Best Story Contest

The first World’s Best Story contest is looking for the next blockbuster novel. After posting a sample of work, authors will be reviewed by online readers who can cast their votes during different stages.

The contest is looking for a story that will work well in many mediums: as a book, a film, a video game, etc. Authors have an opportunity to get their book published if they win, as well as see it developed in other mediums. The contest is open for initial entries now through Aug 12.

Do note that by submitting, authors sign over first rights in ALL formats. So although the prizes add up, be aware that the winner might not receive additional payments for other media uses…and that’s not standard for the traditional publishing route. Also note that the prizes are not cash; they are amounts that can be used at different retailers.

To submit or review the rules yourself, check out this link for Fast Pencil.