Writer’s Digest Free Writing Contest

Whew!  I just got word of this contest today, and it ends tomorrow.   It’s open to science fiction novels and YA of any genre.    You enter the first 150-200 words of your unpublished novel.  The number of entries are unlimited.  To learn more, go to http://tinyurl.com/a8msdw2.

I’m also announcing this on Good Reads, http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1191949-contests.

So why am I even announcing this at such short notice?  Because announcing it is part of the requirements for contest entry.

So there you have it.

The Next Big Thing

What is it?  A game that helps writers promote their next book.  We are each tagged with 10 questions to answer on our site.  Sometime around January 13, I was tagged by L.M. Steel, from the UK.  She wrote the gripping novel, Judged by Your Peers, a story of Secrecy, Deceit and Friendship.  “Everyone has their secrets.”  To learn more, go to: http://www.lmsteel.co.uk/written-word/books-available-1/judged-by-your-peers/

Here are my answers:

Finnegan's_Quest_Cover_for_Kindle1. What is the working title of your next book?

Finnegan’s Quest.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Several years ago, a friend and I had a zine, which contained articles, stories, poetry, and art.  I wrote a commentary called Fox n Crow wherein these two critters talked about people’s foibles.  It was popular enough that when we closed the zine, people suggested I collect these commentaries into a book and publish it.  Instead, I named these two characters and created a plot based on these commentaries.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a metaphorical fantasy.

4. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A guru-seeking fox faces danger when he befriends a crow reputed to have an evil foot.

5. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Finnegan’s Quest is soon to appear in paperback, self published.  Look for it first at amazon.com.

6. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About three months.  I needed to tie these commentaries into a plot, which meant deleting some and writing others.  Quite a challenge, but the results were exciting.

7. If your book was made into a film, which actors would you cast as your characters?

I’d like characters taken from real animals and computer enhanced, so they don’t look cartoonish.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Animal books for grownups or young adults, which are metaphorical fantasies:

Animal Farm, by George Orwell, politics.

Jonathon Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach, a spiritual quest.

Bambi, by Felix Salten, not Walt Disney, spiritual philosophy.

Watership Down, by Richard Adams, survival.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The request by others to collect my Fox n Crow commentaries into a book.  I wanted to do better than that.

10. What else about your book might piqué the reader’s interest?

This is the type of book that invites repeated reading, by young and old who love nature and animals or by those who are concerned about and laugh at our commercial and social foibles.  An early reader mentioned that this book could become a cult classic.  Well, who knows?

The following are five authors of various genres whom I have tagged.  Visit their websites, and when they are ready, they will tell you about their Next Big Thing:

*Laura Libricz has a passion for lifting weights and reading German literature.

Her book: The Master and the Maid.  Historical fiction, Renaissance Period.

Katarina is forced into the service of the rich patrician Sebald Tucher in order to pay off her debts. Once arriving in his country manor, the care of a mysterious newborn baby is thrust on her and she becomes involved in a violent religious clash between two families.


*Donna Cook.  Her book was nominated for the 2012 Whitney Award. 

Her book: Gift of the Phoenix.  Fantasy  

A nation’s fate rests in the hands of three strangers, thrust together by their common destiny to protect the Phoenix, and their world, from destruction.


*Elizabeth Rose is majoring in English and religious studies in Denver, Colorado.  As Amber Koneval, her real name, she is a published poet.

Her book: ‘Till the Last Petal Falls  Woman’s Fiction

A dark twist on a beloved fairy tale.


*Louise West teaches in rural Lincolnshire and walks along the beach with her faithful terriers.

Her book: The Hungry-Man  Creepy Supernatural

The next time your dog tries to warn you about something you can’t sense, pay attention


*Lisa Y. Potocar is a prize winner with glowing reviews from Publishers Weekly.

Her book: Sweet Glory  historical novel

16-year-old Jana Brady trims her auburn tresses and rides off as Union Cavalryman Johnnie to fight as a soldier, nurse, and spy in the American Civil War.


Interview at AuthorStand


Author of Train to Nowhere, Editor’s Choice winner in AuthorStand’s Second Annual Novel Contest, Gloria Piper tells us how the story came to life, who she is as a writer and what comes next, both in the Train world and in her upcoming stories! Note: Spoilers abound, so read Good Morning, Magpie first if that sort of thing bothers you!

AuthorStand: Train to Nowhere has a musical theme that runs through many aspects of the novel.  What sparked that idea and what does it represent to you?

Gloria Piper: Music has always played an important part in my life.  I’m not good at instruments, although I play the piano and have played the guitar, ukulele, clarinet, accordion, recorder, and harmonica.  My favorite instrument has always been the voice, and I was pretty good at that, being a strong alto and having performed in glee clubs, choirs, chorales, and with chamber singers.  And I’ve written music, mostly for piano or choral groups.  Also I have a background in dance.  What has fascinated me is the potential of the body to be its own instrument, whether through whistling, singing, drumming, or clogging.  The range of sounds is amazing, and I’ve seen only the fringes of this potential used in performance groups.

My stories are based on what if.  I wanted to explore the what ifs of the body as a musical instrument.

AS: Each train in the story has distinct characteristics.  What are the underlying meanings of the different characteristics of each?

GP: Each train represents a caste, with its own world view.  The Orphan Train is a self-contained world without destination or freedom.  It is completely out of touch with nature.  The Landed train carries entertainers on their seasonal route to various cities and towns.  Tradition is the strait jacket that limits this caste.  The Nomad train has freedom but no security.  The Nomad caste relies on spiritual direction instead of computers.

AS: Which character in Train do you most identify with, and why?

GP: The main character, Garland.  Not because I’m like him, but because I wanted to avoid the larger than life character who is above the law.  In some ways, Garland is average.  He is gentle and works within the system.  Nevertheless he can’t neglect his yearning for a better life style.  He’s driven to take risks.  Well, I am like him in that freedom is a big thing for me.  And a spiritual connection.  These are two concepts he struggles toward throughout the novel.

AS: Train has a great mix of high-tech and low-tech elements.  How did the idea to cross the two come about?

GP: Look around you, today, and you see a mix of high-tech and low-tech elements, from the jet airplane to the plow horse.  This mix won’t go away soon.  I put Train to Nowhere in the far future, where we can deal with the wins and losses of technology that have resulted through the eons.  What if war, caused by the stress of overpopulation and plundering of natural resources, brought the losses?  What if the splitting of society into castes enabled access to higher tech for some and excluded others?  What would be the result?  My science fiction becomes science fantasy, a soft science.  I’m not into the high-tech stuff.  I am enthralled with an idea and will thrust it into an emotional boiling pot to see what comes out.  I don’t think high-tech must divorce us from the natural, which can include the spiritual.  I love science and the questions it poses, and I love that it doesn’t have all the answers.

AS: Do you have more stories in mind for the Train world that you’ve created?

GP: I left the question of one character’s survival in doubt, with the idea that I could write another story with him as the focal character.  That’s in the maybe stage.  Other stories are demanding my attention.

AS: Finishing a novel is a great feat, and editing one can be even more difficult.  What advice would you give to fellow AuthorStand members when it comes to motivating yourself to complete and polish a novel?

GP: Pick a story and characters that fascinate you.  You’ll be spending a long time with them.  If you get bored, change something to add interest.  Once you’ve written your story, put it away for a week or longer.  When you get back to it, you’ll see things you never noticed before.

AS: You have stories of many different lengths posted on AuthorStand.  How do you decide how long a story needs to be?

GP: I write until the tale is complete.  If it demands 1,000 words, so be it.  If it demands 100,000, so be it.  If a publisher is looking for a story of so many words, I will craft the story to fit that.

AS: When you’re not writing, who/what are you reading?

GP: I read articles on improving my writing.  And–oh, the joys of being a writer–I read stories and know they can improve my writing; I’m not wasting my time.  My reading is somewhat eclectic, with leanings toward science fiction and fantasy.  I’m enthralled when nature is included or the spiritual.

AS: What’s your next project?

GP: I have several projects, two of which are polishing a fantasy novel, To Die in the Enchanted Wood, and expanding Where the Sky Ends into a novel. I’ve just finished a short story, The Demise of the Wonderful Robot Car Club, for AuthorStand.
For more information on Gloria Piper or to send her a message, please visit her profile page here.
You can also read more about Gloria at gloriapiper.wordpress.com.

Rules for the Next Big Thing

I copied this from Ruth’s post at her website: http://ruthewalker.ca/weblog/

Message for tagged authors:
Rules of the Next Big Thing

***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
1. What is your working title of your book?
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
3. What genre does your book fall under?
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.
Be sure to line up your five people in advance.

The Case of the Disappearing Butter

My hubby is full of anecdotes.  Here’s one:

Years ago, when his kids were still at home, they had a problem keeping butter in the house.  The dish sat on the table, so the spread would be soft and readily available.

“Kids, you’re going through the butter too fast.”

“Not me, Dad.”

“Not me either.”

“Well, someone is.”

“Not me.”

“Not me, Dad.”

So Dad kept a watch, at least from the corner of his eye.  Sure enough, the culprit returned to the scene of the crime.  The family’s golden retriever put her muzzle even with the table top and breathed in.  Zhoop.  The butter dish inched toward her.  Zhoop.  It slid closer.  With a last zhoop, the butter slipped off the dish into her mouth.

Now that Dad thought about it, her coat had taken on a sheen over the past several weeks.


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