Tag Archives: Travel

Inception: $250 for Prose, Poetry, or Art Opening

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.

Close: September 31, 2020

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

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.

Works should be unpublished except on a personal blog or website. Artists offered publication may display their pieces in galleries, festivals or shows throughout the publication contract period.

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.

Open Call Ends August 31, 2020

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 up to 49,000 words. Translations welcome, especially with access to the piece in the author’s original language.

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

Use the correct form according to the length of your prose and poetry. Works longer than allowed by the form used will be declined unread.

The Fast Flux options offer a two-week turnaround, with most responses going out within one week.

All submissions must be unpublished (except on a personal blog).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

Submissions must be sent through Sunspot’s Submittable page.

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. 

Soulful Book Offering Gifts from the Ocean

Sweet LifeI’ve been following the journey of a particular book called The Sweet Life from creation through to its final version. The book, which offers up gifts that originate deep within the ocean, is fascinating.

It started years ago when a group of women were called to travel to various places around the world. They set up sacred stone circles in many places, and the sites can be visited by readers who want to experience the journey themselves.

The book is now available on Amazon for those who want to hear from the very special beings who protect our planet and all humans on it. Guaranteed to be a deeply moving read, and perfect for book clubs.

Wind, Waves, and Wonder: Where Dolphins Walk

Where dolphins walk_CoverToday is the first day you can buy Where Dolphins Walk. This memoir from a commercial airline pilot who has traveled the world brings a level of thoughtfulness and meaning to how we move through the world…not only while traveling, but in our daily lives.

With profound consideration and lively stops in a number of the world’s most beautiful countries, Douglas Andrew Keehn gives readers a global cultural tour. The weight of his experiences happen in South America, where he eventually lived for a time before returning to the US.

Throughout his journeys and the book, Keehn returns time and again to the message conveyed by the subtitle: A Memoir of Bridging National Lifestyles, Positive Change, and the Powers of Silence. 

Destined to become the modern-day A Year in Provence for South America’s many jewels, Where Dolphins Walk connects readers with the global harmony that Keehn so clearly feels is not only possible, but is present for everyone who wishes to engage respectfully with other cultures.

Read this over the holidays, and you’ll know exactly where you want to go for your vacations…and possibly for the rest of your life.

Keen CockpitDouglas Andrew Keehn was an avid saltwater angler and deckhand as a teenager. Born in NYC, he was raised in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. He began flying at age seventeen, and has been a flight officer for a major commercial airline for thirty-three years.

After crossing numerous U.S., Canadian, and Mexican cities, his travels shifted south to Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. He resided in Florianopolis, SC, Brazil for more than six years.

Writer’s House, Tbilisi, Georgia

For the last two weeks, I’ve been enrolled in workshops through the Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) out of Montreal, Canada. Morning workshops run for the entire two weeks, while afternoon workshops run one week each.

Writers HouseThe program is hosted by the Writer’s House of Georgia. Located in Tbilisi, the building was completed in 1905. The Art Nouveau architecture blends Georgian and European influences, and the building has witnessed many important historic events, particularly in the political realm.

Although the building is in the heart of the city, the Writer’s House is a quiet sanctuary in the city. The central courtyard hosts a lush garden that stays cool even on the hottest days.

Stop by when you are in Tbilisi, or consider writing and learning with the SLS programs.

Parisian Indie Bookstore Shakespeare and Company

IMG_20180713_120738On Friday, I took advantage of a fourteen-hour layover in Paris, France. With so much time to spend, I headed into the city for a quick look around.

The indie bookstore Shakespeare and Company was on my list. The shop is on a street known for the vendors who set up book stalls along the Seine River. Their location is near Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Louvre.

Shakespeare and Company is an English-language bookstore in the heart of Paris. The building was originally constructed as a monastery. An old tradition held that one monk was assigned the duty of lighting the lamps at nightfall. The bookstore’s founder, George Whitman, cast himself as that monk when he began operating a store that would provide light through literature.

Book Trailers That Turn Heads

Today I want to introduce you (again) to an individual who is a fantastic resource for every author who is serious about selling their books.

TFMODustFrontCover (1)Aleksandar Tomov has done several videos for my books. Two are traditional trailer videos that focus on the books. The first novel, The Family Made of Dust, won two national awards and was shortlisted for a third honor.

Dust was rejected by the big publishers because they didn’t believe people would be interested in the journey of a biracial man who searches the Australian Outback for a missing friend. It’s an adventure/family drama/diverse tale that one reader, after finishing the book, said, “Well, I’ll be damned,” and then turned back to the first page to read it again!

The trailer Tomov created for this one is on my YouTube channel here. The videos he pulled together blend Aboriginal traditions, Outback vistas, and a darkening music track to really capture the flavor of The Family Made of Dust. The trailer, like the book, makes you want to travel to Australia and experience the Outback for yourself.

The year after Dust came out, many readers had asked for more information about Aboriginal lives and their cultures. Readers were very interested in how the protagonist had applied his traditions to solve the issues he faced in his life, so I pulled together a collection of Aboriginal folktales that could help modern people around the world.

SSFrontB&WIn Seven Sisters: Spiritual Messages from Aboriginal Australia, essays describe how traditional people used these stories, and how that wisdom applies today. The book is very popular with fans of The Secret, The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim, and readers of Eckhart Tolle, Louise Hay, and Paul Coelho.

The video Tomov put together for this book is very different. In fact, it doesn’t look much like a book trailer at all. The fact that individuals can share this video simply for the beauty of the images and the message of women’s empowerment means that it has been shared widely.

The video, available here, is longer than a book trailer, too, because the song needs it to be. That hasn’t stopped people from watching, sharing, and sending me messages about it! Trailers can help your Google rankings, too.

ReparationEbook

My next two novels, Beloved and Reparationare dark tales that mix the fantasy elements of Neil Gaiman (American Gods) and China Mieville (The Kraken) with the literary sensibility of Ursula Le Guin (the Earthsea series, The Left Hand of Darkness, and many, many others).

The trailer Tomov provided for Reparation is spectacular. It’s the creepiest one, and really captures the darkness of the story.Check it out here, and then connect with Tomov here! His rates are truly affordable at only 120 euros. At today’s conversion rate, that’s under $140. At that rate, a book trailer could be one of the least expensive promos you’ve ever bought!

Guest Post: Writing and Travel Boost Brain Power

Here’s a great guest post from Rita Robinson, an author and journalist.

Writing and Travel Boost Brain Power

Rita Robinson

Lone Horse Rider

 

Lightening flashed, thunder roared, and unrelenting rain bombarded our 21-foot RV as we crept along at about 20 miles per hour on I-40 near Nashville, Tennessee. We could barely see the windshield wipers slapping across the front window, and finally took an off-ramp toward a crowded Flying J truck stop.

Andy, my husband, squeezed our small RV in among the big rigs jammed side-by-side at the truck stop, while a steady stream of other trucks parked along the adjoining road, and the parking lots of nearby churches. The truck stop, without electricity and using generators, kept everything, except the gas pumps working, as it became the hub of activity for all who parked vehicles in the area.

Portions of I-40, a main interstate highway for cross-country truckers, eventually flooded, causing closures, during the news-making, and record-breaking torrential storms in May of 2010 in Tennessee.

Once the sun shown three days later, and the sweet smell of grass and spring flowers permeated the air, a mélange of people gathered outside the station’s restaurant chatting and shaking hands as if all had known each other forever. We felt rejuvenated, and ready to continue our trip.

Stimulate Writing by Breaking Routines

Such is the stuff of travel and also writing. We change our routines or plans, and consider it part of the travel or writing experience. Not that routines are bad, but it’s good to break them once in a while.

A few times traveling, with tornado warnings ahead of us, we’ve changed routes. We had once driven through a town hit by a tornado and had seen an RV like ours that had been thrown on top of a barn.

These types of experiences make us acutely aware of our surroundings, feelings, motivations, and the idea that we’re not always in charge. As writers, Andy and I know that writing also leads to adventures.

Change and Surprise Boosts the Brain’s Power

We’re at our best when we surprise ourselves with what we put on the page. Writing transports us, as if on a magic carpet, to places of delight, anxiety, fright, awe, insight, imagery, depth, spectacle, and unanticipated adventures, virtual or real. As Robert Frost said, “No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

“Traveling new places, meeting different people and taking part in variety of lifestyles, including foods, shops, noises, and cultures, stimulates cellular connections and promotes brain resilience, so important to the health of your brain,” says Paul D. Nussbaum, Ph.D., Brain Health Center,  and Clinical Neuropsychologist and Adjunct Professor of Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Could this be why so many noted writers have also been travelers, or vice versa? Consider Mark Twain’s, The Innocents Abroad. He wrote “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Out of Our Comfort Zones

It does not take traveling great distances to jazz up the writing mind. Changing minor routines at home can give the brain’s neurons a kick in the synapses. Sitting in a different chair than usual; eating something never tried before; walking backward; changing the writing location, maybe from a customary desk to the kitchen table; sitting on the floor to write; or writing by hand on a tablet, removes our comfort zone and fires up the brain.

Published writers have composed in coffee shops, bus terminals, airplanes, on couches in front of TVs, sitting beneath cherry trees, at the beach, in prisons, and just about any place the imagination can travel.

Emily Dickinson wrote in an attic, Ben Franklin in a bathtub, and several have written in bed, including Marcel Proust (Remembrance of Things Past) and Barbara Cartland, prolific writer of conservative romance novels.

The editor-in-chief of a newspaper where I once worked knew about the beauty of making minor changes to jazz up a place. About every six months he would stomp out of his glassed-in office with, “OK, time to change our desks around.” We grumbled, since most had piles of other work to do. All, however, pitched in to push and shove desks and chairs to new locations with new views, and across from someone different. It worked, and we laughed at the feel of that kick in the synapsis.

We’re on an adventure when we travel, or when we write, and being open to change and surprises not only recharges the brain, it enriches our lives.