Tag Archives: authors

$100 for 100 Words Contest Results

Hundreds of submissions poured into Sunspot Lit for the first $100 for 100 Words contest. Fiction entries ranged from literary to genre pieces (heavy on sci-fi this time, which always sparks the editor’s personal pleasure). Nonfiction prose offered thoughtful commentary on society and relationships, lyric essays, howls that burned down the houses of power, and bright, compact ideas. Poetry was of course well represented.

Many of the entries ran up to the word count limit. A handful made clever use of the title to enhance the work by setting place, time, tone, or other important elements. A surprising amount used less than half the allowed word count, and some of those shot to the top of the list.

The finalists are, in no particular order:

  • Melinda Winograd for “Suitable Match”
  • A.D. Conner for “Whiskey Mermaid”
  • Thomas Boos for “The Bar at the Bottom of the Hill”
  • Lory Saiz for “In the Dark: A Micro Essay on Black Sails’ James Flint and the Gay Villain Trope”
  • Bob Thurber for “The Shovelers”
  • Judith Ralston Ellison for “Zapped by Electricity”
  • Pamela Sumners for “Love Poem”
  • Jesse Sensibar for “Plow in the Sky”
  • Jodee Stanley for “November”
  • Mary-Chris Hines for “As a God”
  • Claudia Reed for “The End of the World?”
  • Julie Goldberg for “We Can Get Another Balloon”

Generating this list from the hundreds of quality entries was like picking a path through a patch of thorns. Many of the pieces that did not make this list still have their hooks deep in flesh and refuse to let go. We hope that the authors of those works will consider submitting through the regular process so we can scoop up new treasures for our readers.

The first-place winner is Pamela Sumners for “Love Poem.” Her piece used the word-count limit to its fullest extent without pushing the boundary unnecessarily.

Pamela is a constitutional and civil rights attorney from Alabama. Her work has been published or recognized by thirty journals and publishers over the last two years. She was included in Halcyon/Black Mountain Press’ 64 Best Poets and had been nominated for 2019’s 50 Best Poets. She was nominated for a Pushcart prize in 2018. She now lives in St. Louis with her wife, son, and three rescue dogs.

Her slim ninety-four words start warm, pour on a disturbing heat, then spill blood before looping back into a cool, almost arctic end.

Look for the poem in the next edition of Sunspot. Just take care that you don’t get hurt.

Inception: $250 for the Best Opening

Sunspot 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 and finalists will be published. 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 $250 for the winner.

Link here for details and to enter. Good luck!

Sunspot Lit Free Summer Edition Available

Sunspot Lit has a lot to offer for your summer reading list. Check out the image contest winner and runner-up, and read the powerful and unique entries that ranked at the top of the Single Word: C*nt Edition contest.

This quarter, we present a story in the original Italian and in its English translation. Many thanks to author Piero Schiavo-Campo and translator Sarah Jane Webb for working with us to bring this story to light. “The Doll” and “La bambola” approach Vienna’s expressionist period from the viewpoint of an artist to tell a tale of “morbid jealousy and furious rage.”

$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.

Sunspot Lit and Other Opportunities

Sunspot Literary Journal got a boost from Submittable​ this week in their listing of opportunities for writers and artists. Thanks!

V1 I1 March 2019 Cover Image

Sunspot Lit Inaugural Edition Free Download

V1 I1 March 2019 Cover ImageThe inaugural edition of Sunspot Literary Journal is now available. Featuring art, flash fiction, poetry, photos, short stories, and essays from around the world.

Download the PDF free on SunspotLit.com under the Editions tab. Newsletter subscribers get early access, direct delivery of the quarterly editions to their inbox, and a carefully curated selection of news about creativity in the world.

Check back on the website as the journal selects specific artists and authors from the inaugural edition for a Spotlight feature.

Sunspot’s current open call closes May 31, 2019. Don’t miss the $100 for 100 Words contest. This is a paying market.

100 Bucks for 100 Words Writing Contest

greeting-1936817_1280Sunspot Literary Journal currently has three contests open to authors and artists. The newest pays $100 for 100 words. Continue reading

Contest for Authors and Artists

C*nt Contest for Authors and Artists from Sunspot Literary Journal

Words are important. Words are so powerful that certain ones have been weaponized to use against specific groups of people.

C*nt is one of many, but in the world today, it is more incendiary than ever. Submit a story, essay, poem, or art piece that talks about c*nt in your life:

-When did you first encounter the word?

-Have you taken on this word and ones like it as a rallying cry?

-Have you ever used it to refer to someone else?

Send your rants, your ribald comedy, a poem, or a photo that cuts to the core. You do not have to use the word within your submission as long as you are conjuring the essence of some element of this word and its use.

All submissions for this contest will be compiled for a special edition of Sunspot Literary Journal. First place winners and two runners-up from each category will be published in summer of 2019.

All first-place winners will be considered for a cash award. The best of the best will receive $50.

The C*nt Contest is now open for submissions. Deadline: March 31, 2019.

Tin House to Close; Sunspot to Open

books-2158737_1920June of 2019 will see the last Tin House literary magazine roll off the presses. After twenty years publishing original fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, Tin House is saying goodbye.

The move was done in the face of mounting costs associated with print publishing. Rob Spillman, the co-founder and editor, is moving on to other areas. The closing brings an end to a very long stretch of quality contributions to the literary arena.

While some new works will still be published on Tin House’s website, the loss of yet another print publication is difficult for writers. Much of the industry still gives more weight to credits in print publications, so the loss of even one magazine can be bad news.

There is a bright spot, however. Sunspot Literary Magazine is launching in January of 2019. For the first year, one print edition will be published. The magazine hopes to add additional print editions in subsequent years.

Meanwhile, digital editions are scheduled for every quarter. The founder is also considering adding frequent special editions that focus on a single author or a single category.

The magazine’s mission is to “change the world through words,” and is open to new and established authors and artists. Submissions of short stories, flash fiction, poetry, essays, art, interviews, and reviews of books, movies and galleries are being accepted through Sunspot’s Submittable portal.

This is an excellent opportunity to be heard and to enact the change you want to see.

New Literary Journal Sunspot Open for Submissions

Sunspot Literary Journal is launching at the beginning of 2019. Submissions are already open for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and hybrid forms. (Links to their website and the submission portal are at the bottom of this blog entry.)

Words speak truth to those in power by drawing on the power of every human being. Sunspot, intent on being a force for change, hears every voice. Write a new world with words…your words.

Now accepting:

Fiction Without Boundaries

Flash fiction, poetry, shorts of every length, literary works and genre stories are welcome at Sunspot.

Essays That Expand

Send your lyric essays. Offer up thoughts that blind. If it’s unique, Sunspot wants to consider it.

Poetry

Poetry can run any number of pages. Yes, that means Sunspot will consider epic poems and stories-in-verse.

For more details about the journal, visit their website SunspotLit.com.

To submit brilliant, unique work that moves across the universe, go to their submission portal on Submittable.

Barbara’s Bits and Pieces

One of my clients and fellow authors sends me this delightful email newsletter now and again. I asked if I could share it here so that others can enjoy the fun and useful tips she provides.

Click on the link to see her October 2018 newsletter as a PDF. Then you can connect with her and receive a free subscription, too!

Barbaras Bits & Pieces October 2018 (5)

Dr. Culp, Author and Educator, in the News

Culp ParentsHere’s another update on a client who has published seven titles through a leading educational publishing house.

You’ve seen a few of Dr. Barbara Culp’s educational titles on this blog before. Now she is receiving coverage from other sources, including this article in Voyage ATL. 

The interview touches on her motivation for writing all of the books. As an educator with over forty years of experience, she found that retirement didn’t suit her very well. There was still too much to be done to help parents, teachers, principals, and students. Culp Teachers

So she started writing books targeting all the different groups involved with K-12 education. She even wrote a book for school superintendents. The “words of wisdom” style series has tips and truly heartfelt advice that can empower while turning up the heat on passion.

Vintage Knowledge for Principals has all 5-star reviews on Amazon. Students who reviewed Choice Knowledge for Students called the book “awesome!” What more could an author…or a reader…want?

Check out all Dr. Culp’s titles at Rowman & Littlefield, on Amazon, or ask your indie bookseller for a copy today! The best thing about Dr. Culp’s work is that she is also working to bring students to their maximum academic potential through the tutorial service she founded. You can visit Amyra, the tutorial company, at their website.

Keep up the great work, Dr. Culp! And I’ll keep readers informed of new books from this talented, warm, and caring author as they are released.

Culp Students

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!

Author Interview: Wendy Gilhula

Last week, I wrote about Gilhula’s debut children’s picture book, Pika Bunny and the Thunderstorm. This week, you’ll hear directly from the author!

wendy17

First, she wanted to share her journey to creating this story and the other adventures of Pika Bunny. She writes:

While tutoring math in my home in Knoxville, TN, one of my students looked around at my small downstairs and innocently asked, “So, what do you do all day before tutoring?”

I just looked at him and smiled. What I wanted to say was, “Oh, I write children’s books that no one is ever going to read.”

But I kept thinking about his question. More importantly, I kept thinking about my answer! I decided to be brave and find a professional to help me in areas where I did not feel confident. That was the best move I could have made.

So, writers, be brave! Follow your dreams. Keep working, and reach out for help when you need it.

Now, here are the rest of Gilhula’s thoughts.

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

The advice I would give to a new writer would be some of the same advice that I gave to myself.

  1. Just write. If you have a story to tell, tell it.
  2. Show your work to someone. Notice that I didn’t say, “Share your work.” Share sounds too intimidating. But don’t hide your work in a drawer for twenty-five years like I did, either!
  3. Pay a professional to look at your work on an artistic level, for consistency, and for editing and grammar in general.
  4. Join SCBWI or start networking in your area to meet people and share experiences.
  5. You are never too old to start. (I’m 52.)

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?

After college, I was a modern dance choreographer and instructor for almost twenty years. My creative brain has always worked while I am sleeping. The minute I awoke, I already had concepts and some of the choreography. Even today, as I have been a math tutor for almost fifteen years now, I will wake up with an answer to a problem that I didn’t have time to finish the night before.

In the morning, I will have my coffee and work on the latest ideas that I have for a book or my current project. After that, it is a total break for the day as I give try to give my students my full attention.

As an artist, I’ve always been told that I don’t think like everyone else. When I was younger, I didn’t like that comment, because I wanted to be like everyone else. Now that I am older, I embrace the difference.

As a human being, one moment I can I feel like I’m freely walking and weaving a path between art and humanity, and the next I feel like I’m tripping on air.

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?

Since I’m just newly published, I do not have a full understanding of the industry. But I can say that money and promotion are probably the biggest challenges.

What books are you currently reading?

Currently, I am reading books by my cousin, Scott Christopher Beebe, who does not believe in editing whatsoever. His writing is exposed and raw. Some of his thoughts progress halfway down the page before you see any punctuation.

These books are not my usual choices, and not my usual choice of words (and types of adult themes). But there is something transparent and crude about how he thinks that is intriguing and sometimes haunting.

Most days I like to read books on topics that I would not typically write about, like mystery.

Which authors do you think are underappreciated in the current market, and why? Which new writers do you find most interesting, and why?

I gravitate to new writers of children’s picture books that aren’t getting the big publishing house launches. Those writers who must create everything to launch their own work into the world intrigue me because of their sheer passion.

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

Since I wake up with the actual drive, my tactics are more of getting the ideas to stop and slow down. Then I can evaluate and experiment. Not every idea is a good one on its own, but it may be the start of something that I want to pursue and explore.

Can you give us a sneak peek into your current project?

The next step in the Pika Bunny Learning Series is to illustrate the second book. Adrianna Allegretti is working on the illustrations now for Pika Bunny Has a Big Question. This one is due to drop in spring of 2018. It will be published by Apollo Publications.

A really different project is also underway. The illustrations for that are by Alexandria Walker. Mother’s Best is a rhyming picture book that is not part of the Pika Bunny series.

Anything else you think people should know about you, the book, or your process?

If there is a magic formula for writing, it would have to consist of investing the time and effort to write, being willing to display your soul (just a little at a time), trusting others to help you, and believing in yourself.

 

 

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!