Sunday, September 30, 2012

The 91 word memoir contest

From the latest edition of Erica Dreifus's Practicing Writer newsletter that I received, I learned of this great little contest: All you have to do is write up to 91 words of memoir to enter. The contest is free and is running till October 15th. Come on, people. I know this isn't strictly a story contest, but this one seems doable. Check it all out HERE .

For some reason, I'm not able to get the subscription link For Erica's newsletter to work, but you can visit the Practicing Writer group HERE, and maybe you'll have a bit more success than I did.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wire is Alive--Story Suggestions

My sister Julie made me aware of this great project by her friend Matthew Walden, called Wire is Alive. Remember how I devoted the month of April to suggesting story prompts that you and in reality more likely me could use to start a story? Well, this is kind of the reverse. You  write a sentence prompt and he, or, later, possibly one of his minions might just make a story out of it. So pop on over and send him a telegram. Or at least read the latest story, "Baptism for the Dead".  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pea Green Boat

Haven't had an actual story you can listen to here for awhile. Adrian McKinty has been talking up Stewart Lee over at his place recently, and here is an audio he linked to of Lee's Pea Green Boat . I'd say it was mordantly funny, except I'm not sure I know what mordant means. Darkly humorous then. Very darkly humorous.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A great critique opportunity

Ru over at And Then She Was Like Blah Blah Blah has offered us a great critiquing opportunity for one lucky person. You can find out about it HERE.

Take advantage of this. Seriously. You know I will.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The last First Line of the Year

I explained what The First Line is back here, but wanted to remind you or tell any new passersby that the final sentence of The First Line contest is up and you can write a story using it by November 1st and maybe win a slot in their journal. Here it is:

Sometimes, when it's quiet, I can remember what my life was like before moving to Cedar Springs.

Check out their website, where they will explain it all for you.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Jeffrey E. Smith Editor's Prize Competition

I  got news about this contest the other day by email and thought I'd share it with you. I'm thinking about entering it myself, but I'll be happy if you win too! Drop me a line if you do--I'd love to hear.
Dear Writer,

I wanted to remind you about an exciting prize and publication opportunity available through The Missouri Review. There’s one month left to submit to our Jeffrey E. Smith Editor’s Prize Competition--for which we offer over $15,000 in prizes. We accept submissions in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Winners in each category receive a prize of $5,000, plus a feature in our Spring issue and paid travel to our gala reading and reception. Contest finalists will receive cash prizes and have their work considered for publication as well.

While the contest has a postmark deadline of October 1st of this year, we encourage early submissions. We accept submissions online or by mail. Winners will be announced in January of 2013.

Don’t forget that your $20 entry fee gets you a one-year subscription to The Missouri Review. Subscriptions are available in print or digital versions. Our downloadable digital subscription includes a full-length audio version of the journal.

You can find more information about the contest through our website:

Interested in reading a past Jeffrey E. Smith Editor's Prize winner? Check out the essays "Big Jim," "Letters to David," and "My Thai Girlfriends" on textBOX, the Missouri Review's free online anthology:

Thanks very much for your help in making this year’s contest a success. We look forward to reading your submissions!

Best regards,

Claire McQuerry

Contest Editor

The Missouri Review
357 McReynolds Hall
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


My friend Leslie Karst has started a new blog called Custard and Clues, which is at least somewhat aligned with her  new venture of writing mystery novels. Checking it out last night, I learned about something called the Gearing Up to Get An Agent blogfest/contest.

To be honest, I wasn't really gearing up to do much of anything in September, but on the other hand, I do have a lot of unpitched and unpublished work, and you never know, we go.

Deana Barnhart

Not entirely forthcoming biographical notes:

I live in Santa Cruz, California, which I first came to to attend the university here. Although I have tried several times to escape, it's never ultimately worked out, and I have worked for many years now at a large independent bookstore here. Still trying to figure out how that happened, but for your purposes, that means that I know quite a lot about the realities of the publishing world from a a very particular angle. So feel free to ask questions, as long as you know that some of the answers may be disheartening.

I've written in a lot of different forms and I like trying out new genres and new media. I've even co-authored a trivia book about Southern California (my birthplace). I  have a lot of blogs, which is probably a mistake, and the most popular one is one called Confessions of Ignorance, which I think people like because they are comforted by the fact that I know even less than they do.

As far as actually getting published by other people, other than the trivia book, my success to date has been in the realm of short stories. I've recently put in a few links on this blog so that people who enjoy the form can access these from here.

I have several longer manuscripts, though, some of which I've tried to get an agent for, without success. I'll probably try the most recent one in the pitch festival here. Should be interesting. ("Interesting" is often used as a cover word for "terrifying").

Meet and Greet Questions and Answers:

Where do you write?

I used to do almost all my writing in coffee shops, but gradually that has shifted over to working almost entirely at home.

Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?

Once you look past a truly appalling pile of clutter (I'm the kind of person who watches Hoarders and worries) there is a really beautiful garden, which, not surprisingly is maintained entirely by my landlady, and not by me. When I first moved in here, it was a kind of dark, ferny redwood garden, which I liked. But then a giant tree fell down, luckily not on my house, and now it is a sunny and entirely different garden. There's a metaphor in that somewhere.

Favorite time to write?

I like to write in daylight, I don't really care when. At night, I pretty much like to turn off and be a complete sloth. But facing different deadlines at various times in my life, I've learned that preference is only that--preference. You can do an awful lot of writing when you're "too tired and don't really feel like it".

Drink of choice while writing?

I used to drink a lot of coffee while I wrote, but now I don't really drink anything. If there happens to be a beer nearby, though...

When writing, do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

This is a funny thing. At home, I need it quiet. But if I'm writing out somewhere and there's background music, I really don't mind it, and usually only half notice it.

What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

I somehow got drawn into the world of spycraft. It started by reading Barry Eisler and watching Burn Notice on television and becoming more and more intrigued about how the world looks from a spy's point of view. Then I almost accidentally took a spy writing workshop from D. S. Kane at the Muse Online Writers Conference last year, and then took the plunge and wrote out the whole thing for last year's Nanowrimo. There are aspects of all this that are not unlike being recruited into the spy world itself.

What's your most valuable writing tip?

Don't let excuses bog you down too much. Don't wait for ideal situations or the perfect story or some aspect of your life to change before you really 'get serious'. Just start.