Category Archives: romance

Inception Contest Offers $250 to Authors and Artists Plus Lower Fee

Beginnings have the power to spark passion or curiosity. They might immediately connect a specific place and time with an emotional tone. The best offer a feeling, atmosphere, action, or image that is gripping.

Too often in commercially driven industries, this results in sensationalism. But meaning, thoughtfulness, emotions, or shadings of tone…that is, connection…are the impulses that draw audiences into the moment. A poem handles this differently than a flash piece, which handles an opening differently than a novel. The first photo, painting or frame presented in a gallery, series, or collection strives for the same intent. Openings contain a spark that promises to continue to burn.

For Sunspot Lit’s 2020 Inception contest, send your best opening. There are no restrictions on theme, category, or the length of the piece or collection from which the beginning comes. Word limit is 250 for prose, 25 words for poetry. Graphic novel entries should be the first page (unlimited number of panels on that page) with a maximum of 250 words…so, cut the number of panels in order to meet the word count, if needed. Visual art entries should be the first in a series, the first in a gallery lineup, the first photo in a themed collection, etc. Entries are limited to one image with up to 250 words to describe the series, lineup or collection.

For 2020, the entry fee has been reduced due to COVID’s economic impact.

Open: July 1, 2020 (submit here)

Close: September 31, 2020

Entry fee: $5

Prize: $250 cash, publication for the winner, publication offered to runners-up and finalists.

SINGLE WORD CONTEST 2020 EDITION

Sunspot Lit announces the results of the Single Word contest’s 2020 edition. Submissions were open for any prose form, poetry, and visual art. We received entries that made us laugh, thoughtful pieces that dealt with the current pandemic, and works that hold meaning no matter what state the world is in.

Truly, this crop of entries showed exceptional talent. It’s heartening to know that people are working creatively to make the world a better place. The lists below reflect the results of multiple judging rounds. Look for the finalists and the winner in the next quarterly edition, due out around the end of June.

Congratulations to everyone on these lists!

 

Longlist

Compassion, Joshua Molina

Confidence, Tara Strahl

Faith, Trever Sinanovic

Enough, Lisa DeAngelis

One, Wes Finch

Weapon, Mary Lash

Light, Tanita Cree

Equanimity, Hunter Liguore

Consequence, Elizabeth Cain

Chinese, Jill Bronfman

Faith, Jennifer Jones

Unidistancing/Uni-distancing, Corinne Beasley

Turbine, Cameron Lings

Gender, Vicky Prior

Exit, Thomas Mangan

Us, Mary Sheehan

Jarabi, Doley Henderson

Anomie, Angela Kaufman

 

Shortlist

e/motion, Kerry Rawlinson

Dream, Michael Noonan

Aloha, Stephanie Launiu

You’re Mine, You (for They), Valyntina Grenier

Another Word for Beauty, Mark Henderson

The Meaning of Free, Hannah van Didden

Ubuntu, Ethel Maqeda

Rega, Rosalie Sydes

Yes, Lisa Friedlander

Burning, Olga Gonzalez Latapi

We, Larry Mellman

Self-quarantined, Christopher Buckley

Viral, Claire Lawrence

Stoic, Aileen Boyer

Vulnerability, Hazel Whitehead

The Letter “Hey,” Omer Wissman

 

Finalists

Aloha, Stephanie Launiu

You’re Mine, You (for They), Valyntina Grenier

Ubuntu, Ethel Maqeda

Burning, Olga Gonzalez Latapi

We, Larry Mellman

Self-quarantined, Christopher Buckley

Viral, Claire Lawrence

The Letter “Hey,” Omer Wissman

 

Winner and Runners-up

Runner-up: Ubuntu, Ethel Maqeda

Runner-up: Viral, Claire Lawrence

First place: The Meaning of Free, Hannah van Didden

 

Closing Soon: $500 for a Single Word

Prize: $500 and Publication

For the 2020 edition of the Single Word contest, Sunspot is handing the megaphone over to authors and artists. Submit the single word you feel is the most important in today’s world.

You’ll have 1,000 words to describe why using any form of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. If you feel the word speaks for itself, your description can simply state that fact.

Artwork is also accepted for this prize. Submit one image and up to 250 words describing the artwork’s relationship to the single word.

Since English doesn’t always convey exact shades of meaning, the word you select can be in any language. A definition written in English will be required, and the definition will count toward the total word count of the description. The description must also be in English.

For the first edition of this contest in 2019, the prize was $50. In 2020, the prize has increased to $500.

In addition to receiving the cash prize, the winner will be published. Select finalists will have the chance to be published. Sunspot asks for first rights only; all rights revert to the contributor after publication. Works, along with the creators’ bylines, are published in the next quarterly digital edition an average of one month after contest completion as well as the annual fall print edition. 

Enter as many times as you like through Submittable, but only one piece per submission. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please withdraw your piece if it is published elsewhere before the winner is selected.

Entry fee is $10.

Opens January 1, 2020. 

Closes March 31, 2020 at midnight EST.

Selected as one of Reedsy’s Best Writing Contests in 2019. Reedsy Best Contest

Open Call Closing Feb 29

Sunspot Literary Journal is dedicated to amplifying diverse multinational voices. We offer an Editor’s Prize of $50 for the annual edition. Artwork selected for a cover will be paid $20. Visit SunspotLit.com to download digital editions for free.

All types of prose from flash fiction and poetry to stories and essays, including scripts and screenplays, are welcome. We also accept long-form, novelette, and novella length works. Translations welcome, especially with access to the piece in the author’s original language.

One piece per prose submission, including poetry; two works of visual art per submission.

Use the General form for prose from 501 to 3,500 words. Flash fiction and works longer than 3,500 words must be submitted through one of the other forms. If they are submitted through the General form, they will be declined unread.

Using the Fast Flux (two-week turnaround or less)? Select the correct fee option to avoid delays.

All submissions must be unpublished (except on a personal blog). Simultaneous submissions welcome. Submit as many times as you like.

Closes February 29, 2020 at midnight.

Closing Soon: Open Call from Sunspot Lit

Since launching in January of 2019, Sunspot has amplified multinational voices from around the world. The pSLJFrontublication is accepting fiction, poetry, nonfiction, scripts, screenplays, photography, and art until November 30. Translations and extremely long-form pieces are accepted. Submit here or visit the website here.

Single Word Writing Contest Offers $500

postcard-1197664_1920For the 2020 edition of the Single Word contest, Sunspot is handing the megaphone over to you. Submit the single word you feel is the most important in today’s world.

You’ll have 1,000 words to describe why using any form of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. If you feel the word speaks for itself, your description can simply state that fact.

Since English doesn’t always convey exact shades of meaning, the word you select can be in any language. A definition written in English will be required, and the definition will count toward the total word count of the description. The description must also be in English.

For the first edition of this contest in 2019, the prize was $50. In 2020, the prize is being increased to $500.
In addition to receiving the cash prize, the winner will be published. Select finalists will have the chance to be published.

Enter as many times as you like. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please withdraw your piece if it is published elsewhere before the winner is selected. Deadline is March 31, 2020.

Reedsy Selects Inception as 2019 Best Writing Contest

Reedsy Best ContestReedsy, a huge freelancer’s site, selected Inception: $250 for the Best Opening as one of the Best Contests of 2019. Check it out before it closes October 31.

New Multi-genre Writing Contest

SunspotSunspot Literary Journal wants your best fiction, nonfiction, or poetry opening. No restrictions on theme, category, or length of the piece from which the beginning is excerpted.

Length for the entry: Up to 250 words for prose. Up to 25 words for poetry. 

First place winner will be published, and finalists will be offered the opportunity to be published. Enter as many times as you like. Simultaneous submissions accepted. Work can have won other awards without being disqualified.

Cash award of $250 for the winner.

Link here to submit today. 

Closing October 31, 2019. 

$100 for 100 Words Contest Closing Soon

Microfiction, micro essay, micro memoir, short poem, micro script, micro screenplay…if it’s 100 words or less, it might be worth $100. No restrictions on theme or category.
First place winners and finalists in various prose categories will be published in Sunspot Literary Journal. A byline and bio will be included, and select pieces will receive special attention on the website.
Enter as many times as you like. One piece per submission. Pieces must be unpublished except on a personal blog or website. Simultaneous submissions accepted. Work can have won other awards without being disqualified. Cash award of $100. Closing July 30, 2019.

Author Interview: Mark Noce

Mark NoceLast week, I posted a book review for the second title in a historical series by Mark Noce. The first two titles are Between Two Fires and Dark Winds Rising. Both feature Queen Branwen of Wales, an original empowered woman!

Today the author has been kind enough to answer a few questions. So, here we go!

MC: Hi Laine, and thanks so much for having me here!

How would your advice for new writers differ from advice you would offer writers who have been in the game for a while?

Hmm. My advice would be…don’t take too much advice. I’m not saying that there isn’t a lot of good advice out there, but it’s crucial for each author to find what works for them, and what doesn’t. Experiment, trying things, learn the hard way. It’s what I do. Try writer’s conferences, creative writing groups, online forums, and see what speaks to you.

As for the writing itself, I adhere to Ray Bradbury’s advice to write a lot and often, otherwise, “if you only write a few things, you’re doomed.”

When you take a break from writing, is it a full and total break or is your mind constantly parsing the world for fodder? What does that parsing look like? How does it make you feel as an artist? As a human being?

I dream about writing (seriously I do), so I’m not sure that I ever really do take a break. Writers are readers, so if you feel you need a break, make sure to plug your time with as much reading as you can. It’s grist for the mill, and there’s so much good stuff out there to enjoy. Writing’s work, but it’s fun too. So long as you keep it fun, you won’t want a break from it.

From your perspective as an author, what do you feel is the biggest challenge to the publishing industry today? Is there a way to solve that challenge?

There are plenty of challenges, but it wouldn’t be worthwhile if it was easy either. One of the big challenges is simply getting your message heard through all the white noise that fills everyone’s everyday lives. When you promote a book or even get your novel into someone’s hands you probably still don’t have their full attention, i.e. the TV is on, they’re multitasking at work, their kids are interrupting them, etc. All you can really do is try to connect with them right from the get go with those first few lines so that they make the conscious choice to dive into your story. It’s part skill, part luck, part faith.

What books are you currently reading?

Everything! There’s nothing I won’t read. I try to read about 3-4 books a week (and during the summer I try to reread some of my favorites). I’ve been diving into history books lately, fiction and nonfiction. Stuff by James Jones, George Orwell, and even Katharine Hepburn (yes, you read that last part right).

Which authors do you think are underappreciated in the current market, and why? (The authors do not have to be living.)

It’s difficult to say, as you never know what books are being loved in people’s homes across the world, but aren’t bestsellers. I’m a big Lawrence Durrell fan, so if you haven’t read Justine or any of the Alexandrian quartet, you’re in for a treat.

Which new writers do you find most interesting, and why?

One book that really blew me away this year was Cherie Reich’s stories entitled People of Foxwick. If you enjoy fantasy, check it out. When I read it, I was shocked that a major press hadn’t picked it up yet, it’s that good.

Finding the discipline to keep writing can be tough. Which “get writing” techniques are most effective for you?

Everyone is different. If you do something 60 days in a row though, it typically becomes a habit. Then you simply do it without thinking. Also, it’s key to develop your own regimen. For me, I write on weekdays, but give myself weekends off to read and absorb life. By Monday I’m always chomping at the bit to get writing again.

Dark Winds RisingCan you give us a sneak peek into your current project?

Sure, I’ve got lots. The sequel in my Queen Branwen series, Dark Winds Rising, came out this month, but I’ve got two manuscripts for two different series already with my agent. One is set during the Viking age and another in WWII London. They both feature female protagonists, and I’m really excited to get these out there with publishers.

Do feel free to tell me anything else you think people should know about you, the book, the writing lifestyle, or your process.

I love writing, especially historical fiction. I work by day as a tech writer in Silicon Valley, and when I’m not writing, I’m with my wife raising my kids. My little redheads are great, but looking after them makes writing and the corporate world look easy by comparison. 😉

I hope you enjoy Dark Winds Rising, and I look forward to connecting with all of you. Please feel free to drop me a line at marknoce.com any time. Thanks!

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!

Another Great Deal for Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance Thriller

Last week, I told you about a great preorder deal from Kim Petersen. Now I want to let you know that you can get another book from the same author for a great price.

This one, usually $3.99, has “steamy scenes and dark themes.” Grab it now at this great lower price! It’s called Millie’s Angel. Here’s the description:

Betrayal is always the last place you expect.

When her mother decides to leave, Millie’s life is turned upside down as she faces life with a father who has a mysterious dark pallor shrouding his countenance. Millie grows up relying on her own strength and the comfort that comes from a friend and a romantic connection that has her heart smitten.
As she struggles to make sense of life, Millie discovers her growing thirst for love while learning to overcome the adversity that plagues her family.
When Millie discovers the dark secrets surrounding her birth, she realises the unthinkable acts of her father, and finds herself battling between love and hatred while finding a sense of balance through a powerful bond with an angel.
When her mother contacts her a decade later, Millie visits with her just in time to realise her own angelic gift, when she finds she is not alone in discovering her mother’s whereabouts. With evil lurking between the cracks in her family, the appearance of Millie’s gift – a phenomenon that will heal and shine brighter than she could ever have imagined – changes her family’s perspectives and the direction of their lives forever.

And here’s the link to the discounted ebook.