Here are 31 reputable, well-reviewed, free writing contests for poets, fiction writers, essayists and more. Some legitimate contests do charge a small entry or “reading” fee, but often a fee can be a red flag for a scam, so you may want to stick to free contests — and there are certainly enough of them.
I want to thank Bob McCarthy for the incredible review he posted on Amazon and Google, for my novel, Angel of Tears. This was not just a quick overview; it was a six-point outline of why he believed the story worked from start to finish. As a published writer, professional in Media Marketing, Public Relations and other aspects of the writing process, this review is invaluable to me as a first-time novelist.
It is also an excellent reminder to me, and all of us writers, how important it is to let the rest of the world know what we liked about the books of our fellow members of GCWA.
The more reviews a book receives, good or not-so-good, help bring the book nearer to the top of Amazon’s most-read list.
Thank you again, Bob, for your encouragement. It is a definite boost for me now that I am writing my second novel.
~Irene “Susie” Smith
Good news to share with you: My poetry manuscript has been accepted for publication by Kelsay Books of Helmet, California. The collection gathers some 50 poems culled from three decades of writing. I’ve been advised by other Kelsay authors that actual publication is “slow,” but when compared to how long it’s taken me to tuck these poems into one bed, ‘slow’ is much quicker than “never.” As “they” used to say before we hurried up, “don’t touch that dial!”
By: Geneva Kelly
Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love the decorations, the lights, the music, and the sales. I love the giving; and let’s be real, even Santa knows, I love the presents! My parents taught me to say thank you and appreciate everything I get; but I’ll admit, there were times I was faking. Was I a spoiled brat? Could I possibly be ungrateful; or does everyone have the same reaction to gifts that feel meaningless?
I asked at least twenty five people what their worst presents were, and half said they got something they didn’t understand. A girl at work told me her mother always manages to get her the wrong thing. She said, “One year it was a fancy pen; I don’t collect pens, and I’m not a writer. Along with that, my mom got me a soda maker, but the only soda I drink is Sprite.” “To top it off, the next year she got me an ice-cream maker. That might sound cool, but I’m lactose intolerant, have been my whole life!”
I asked her how she reacted, and she said, “What could I do? It’s my mom.”
My mother and I would need to talk after that. It’s one thing if it’s a distant relative, or a Secret Santa, but when your mom fouls out, no way…
Sadly, grandmothers were next in line for horrible gift giving. This one had me reminiscing. Some complained about clothes being two sizes too big, or small. I laughed. Then, a handful followed with knitted Christmas sweaters or vests that screamed, “My Grandmother made this!”
“How bout a bright orange sweater, because at seven, you couldn’t possibly care what you look like,” one girl complained.
“What about a yellow knit dress that lets everyone know you hate your life, because your parents actually made you wear it?” her friend chimes in.
My friend in California told me her grandmother got her a Barbie. Had she not been 16 at the time, it wouldn’t have been so bad.
After hearing several childhood memories, I couldn’t help but think mine still won. It wasn’t just that I got socks from my grandmother, it was the awkward feeling I had watching my cousins opening pretty dresses from her. Of course, I gave my thank you kiss, and half grinned; but subconsciously, I was learning what re-gifting meant. I spent years thinking it was just me. After all, my brother and sister never complained about their socks, or ceramic toys. But I, being curious about everything, wanted it to make sense.
Needless to say, when a guy at work told me he got a ceramic mermaid, it was great for me to hear I wasn’t alone. He showed me a picture he saved in his phone because it was so horrible, he had to laugh. Did I mention he was gay? No, because he isn’t. I couldn’t believe his boss gave it to him. But as horrible as it was, it made me feel better about my cold, un-huggable, ceramic teddy bear.
To sum things up, and so you don’t end up on the list for the worst gift givers, you may want to take notes. Dollar store gifts, (unless you are making a package out of them) are never a good thing. Jewelry that is supposed to be real, but then turns your skin colors; unfortunate. Hand towels if you’re not old enough to have your own place, not okay. And though I never heard of “The Ding King,” until now, apparently that is a bad present too.
A lucky few said they never got a bad present. But it begs the question, “Is it worse to get nothing, or to get something with no thought at all, and then re-gift?” What do you think?
Doug has a new children’s book out in time for the holidays. Entitled, ‘Morgan McKinney’s Bigger-Than-Life Bedtime Story’, it stars Morgan McKinney, a big lovable kid who is rambunctious and full of energy. No one can jump like Morgan and no one has a feather pillow like Morgan. You know, the feather pillow with the DO NOT REMOVE tag on it. It isn’t until his mother tells him a bedtime story on Christmas Eve that he discovers just what happens when the tag is pulled OFF. Follow Morgan and all the large animals at the zoo on their amazing airborne adventure above Florida. Meet Henry, the Humongous Hippo; Ralph, the Rugged Rhino; Eloise, the Purple-Spotted Elephant Seal; Garth, the Goliath Grouper; and Martha, the Monstrous Manatee. Watch for a guest appearance by the Big Guy himself, Santa Claus. And don’t miss the super cool surprise ending!
Kerryn Reid’s novella, “Butterfly in a Hurricane,” has been named a finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards. The story involves a fragile young woman with Asperger’s syndrome who falls for the Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy who spares her a speeding ticket. He sees in Lydia the beauty of a butterfly, with all its vulnerability. She’s odd, awkward, and irresistible… but if he’s Type A, she must be Type Z. Can they possibly find happiness somewhere in the middle of the alphabet? “Butterfly” is part of an anthology of short stories by Southwest Florida Romance Writers out August 2016 in ebook and print.
In my career, I have written numerous processes. Some were in the form of video scripts, some were instructions for people on an assembly line and others were tips for improving one’s writing. I also tend to read through processes to see how well the writer has or has not explained the steps. So it is delightful when I come across the following recipe (Yes, it’s a process!) and notice a glaring error. Can you find it?
- Preheat oven to 350 °F.
- Combine all ingredients except chicken in large bowl. Rub seasoning over chicken and marinate in refrigerator for 6 hours or longer.
- Evenly space chicken on nonstick or lightly greased baking pan.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for an added 30–40 minutes or until the meat can be easily pulled away from the bone with a fork.
My suggestion? Switch steps one and two.
Another suggestion, whether your are writing a description, narration, a novel a play, or anything with publication potential, do yourself a favor and proofread it. If you are submitting a work for publication, you are well advised to have it professionally edited. Yes, that costs money, but it’s worth the piece of mind. I’ve seen NYT best sellers with typos! So you are best served by having a Beta reader, a proofreader and an editor who will check your content and your copy.
Think about this. A person wrote a four step process for cooking chicken and couldn’t get it correct. What are the chances there is at least one error in your latest work?
LONG LAKE by John Todd (1845) published by Purple Mountain Press, 1997.
John Todd 1800-1873.
Reading about where you are by Gary McLouth
The Adirondack mountains of New York State were measured in comparison in size to Massachusetts by early explorers, and more recently, to the area of Connecticut and Rhode Island, or over 6 million acres, or just one big ancient mountain range replete with lakes and forests called the largest State Park east of the Mississippi, and designated in the New York State Constitution as “Forever Wild.”
Having found home in the central Adirondacks for most of my life, I can attest to the abiding sense of awe I feel just by being here. The vistas of mountains from lake shores strike me speechless while reminding me of the indubitable dominance of nature. As I look out over the water at the forested mountain ridges, I feel big and small at once. I imagine my presence here as something grand and significant through communing with nature’s overwhelming presence, and the belief that I am an integral and organic element of the world.
A passage from what is considered by Adirondack historians as “the first book to deal with an Adirondack topic” says it from the perspective of a man who penetrated this wilderness some 170 years ago. What he has written doesn’t seem much out of date to me.
When you are thus in the midst of a great forest, knowing that you must go fifty or sixty miles ere you reach a human being – knowing that here man has not left the prints of his puny foot, — that God himself reigns here in solitude, you have a subdued feeling of dependence and insignificance that is new and peculiar. You feel that you might fall like one of the leaves that is falling around you, and the forest would stand, the mountains cast their deep shadows and the lake mirror back the bright heavens, and the world move on just as if you had never been.
A writer, to whom I have already made allusion, thinks the wilderness is, of all others, the best pace in which to renew health of body and vigor of mind. Before any one lays his plans to penetrate it far, let him make up his mind to endure fatigue beyond what he ever before endured, to sleep where-ever night finds him, and to come as near starving as need be. It will do well enough to talk about living on venison or moose, but it is always better to hunt the bear before you sell his oil. It is obviously the best place in the world to recruit the body – for you must work as hard as possible, and change all you habits of diet, & c. Then you are completely shut out from the world, and know nothing of what is passing without. So you may cease to give yourself any trouble about it, and you thus leave the world behind, and the mind is wholly unbent – an advantage which it can obtain nowhere else. All habits of mind and body are changed, and all are recruited…
By: Geneva Kelly 6-2014 (WC 772)
The pressures of adulthood can make things seem so serious. With work, kids, crazy relatives, bills, stress and random illness- it can be hard to look at things with brighter eyes. But what if for a moment, you could recapture one thing from your youth? What if you could bring back that most valued trait that adult amnesia has made you forget? Would you want to be fearless, or more confident? Would you want to be equally as silly or lighthearted? Or would you just settle on having some of your (don’t give a shit a bit) back?
Curious as ever, I questioned 40 people to find out what random things people miss. I used social media, friends, family, and people at work for a variety of answers. I asked men and women ages 30 to 70, and here are some things that I heard.
For starters, if we could get back our childhood energy, we’d all feel a lot better! Coffee and Red Bull are fine, but everyone claimed to be pretty much addicted.
We miss being fearless. And I say we, because I am in total agreement. Men and women agreed that they miss being brave enough to try anything. A women in her 70’s used to love parties but life made her antisocial. A man in his 60’s used to love rollercoasters but was now scared of heights. A 50-something on social media admitted to being afraid of technology (which was kind of funny considering she was on Facebook). And a 40 year old man mentioned his fear of bridges because of a past car accident. In my late 30’s, the thing I fear the most is myself. It’s the fear of getting in my own way, and the possibility of not feeling fully alive each day. I miss the days when I used to sing out loud just because.
But what about those days when you were 16, and didn’t care about anything? The days when it didn’t matter who was watching, and you could simply be yourself? I’ll tell you what happened- gray hair, bigger bellies, boredom, and the internet. If you compare yourself to the millions of pictures you see every day online, you could feel bad, being Miss America.
When I asked the women 30 and older what they would want back from their youth, I heard things like: my body before pregnancy, my thighs before cellulite, my hair before grays, and (my favorite) my round bootie.
Men weren’t that different though. Some of youngest wanted to bring back the hair missing on their head, which by 50 somehow shifted spots and started growing in their ears. Some wanted their eyesight, and just like women, wanted those six packs (before they became so fond of the drinkable kind however, and got beer bellies instead).
Aside from the physical things, and equally at all ages, there were random answers about wanting to recapture a feeling. Some wanted to feel loved or excited, nurtured, or appreciated. And one guy at a sweet age of 75 told me he missed being surprised. He said, “At my age not that much surprises you anymore.” Lord do I hope he finds sweet surprises.
Some older folks, wanted to have back simpler times; when bitch wasn’t an appropriate word on the radio, and when they sang about love- instead of big booties and fast money.
Those who ranged from 40 to 60 wanted their memory and sharp mind back, because walking in the room and forgetting what you came in for, gets annoying after a while. A few people wanted to bring family members or parents, to have just one more moment with them. And some wanted missing items like a school ring, or lost photos.
One guy told me about a teddy bear he had when he was three. Poor Mr. Teddy got peed on, and was never seen again.
Being an adult is funny. I miss the days when dying my hair was for fun and not because of the many grays. I miss running outside in the rain and stomping in puddles without worrying what bacteria may be lurking. Now, I understand some of the things that I didn’t in my youth. And though there is still so much I’m trying to figure out; I’ve decided that for the things I can’t wrap my head around, well- I don’t give a shit a bit.
Pinterest for authors? With most of what we do being in written word, you might think using a social platform that is based on images may not apply to you. It does.
Not only do you have your book cover, but you can post other images that might work for settings within your book, or post other similar, well published books to give readers an idea of what style you write in.
Pinterest is dominated by women, so if you are in the Romance genre, this platform may prove to be one of your best. So get in there and start making pin boards and put up some images to generate curiosity to your book and website.
And speaking of website, you can incorporate the “Pin-it” app that allows your visitors to pin images within your website to their boards. That is how you get marketing done for you.
Visit Pinterest.com to set up your account and get started today.