Friday, May 15, 2015

Short Story Contest

ACFW along with its Houston Chapter is sponsoring a short story contest for all authors. It appears an ACFW membership is not required. However, there is an entrance fee. Entries open June 1 and close June 30. The theme is dancing.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Submit Early, Submit Often by Christina Weeks

Submit Early, Submit Often
Build Your Author Resume
By Christina Weeks

I work best with a deadline. And not a self-imposed, hit-it-if-I-feel-like-it target. I need a due date. Writing contests, magazine articles, and short story anthologies give me that deadline.

Meeting deadlines on shorter works provides practice and self-discipline for the future—when you’re in the major leagues and a publisher gives you a deadline. Before accepting an assignment, we need to be confident that we can complete it on time. How long will it take to write, edit, and polish amidst a work schedule and family responsibilities? Knowing your bandwidth comes with experience.

In addition completing multiple short works simultaneously hones your juggling skills. Someday you’ll not only be completing line edits for your manuscript, but you’ll also be blogging, conducting interviews, writing a promotional short story, and handling social media. Multi-tasking is an essential skill we can learn on the way up.

So submit early and submit often. Here are some opportunities:

Westbow Press and The Parable Group – Aspiring Authors Writing Contest
Word Count: 10,000+ words
Submission Deadline: May 31, 2015
Fiction or non-fiction completed manuscripts with an inspirational, positive message.

Splickety Prime Flash Fiction
Word Count: 1,000 words or less
Deadline: July 10, 2015
Theme: Lost at Sea
The Crossover Alliance Anthology Volume 2
Word Count: 500 to 17,000 words
Deadline: July 19, 2015
Submissions should have a Christian theme and also fall within or close to the speculative fiction genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural, etc. As mentioned in our About Us page, we are interested in mysteries, historical pieces, or other pieces that speculate, are fiction, and edgy in their own right. If in doubt, submit to us and we'll let you know.

Pelican Book Group – Easter Lily stories
Word Count: 15,000 to 25,000 words
Submissions Accepted: August 1 to September 30
Christian historical or contemporary romances
Very specific requirements for the story. View guidelines:

Christina Weeks is author of—quick reads posted on the first and fifteenth of the month. In addition, she’s published in short fiction and commercial publications. She’s also worked at Walt Disney World, flown in a stunt plane, and raced a stock car. You can connect with Christina at:

Friday, May 1, 2015

Nadia's Hope Free 05/01/15 - 05/03/15

Christian Fiction by Lisa Buffaloe. Tell your friends and pass on the word to bring healing and hope to a world in need of God's healing and hope. The book is free 05/01/15 - 05/03/15 Nadia's Hope on Amazon 

About Nadia's Hope

The nightmares continue. Memories won’t heal. Nadia must make a choice.

Nadia Minsky fled Israel to escape her past, but she can’t outrun her nightmares. The throbbing scars along her hip and stomach are cruel reminders of shattered dreams. Even though surgeons mended her body, her spirit still bleeds. Friends claim only God can heal her. For Nadia, trusting a God who allowed her to suffer is inconceivable.

Can close friends, a wild roommate, and a handsome medical student help Nadia learn to trust? Or will she allow her past to forever cripple her future?

“… the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love.” ~Psalm 33:18 (NIV)

Nadia’s Hope
2010 Women of Faith Writing Contest Finalist Runner-up for Women’s Fiction 
2010 American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis Contest
Best of Conference for Adult Novel, 2007 North Texas Christian Writer’s Conference.

"This is an amazing story of finding grace, hope, and healing through God's amazing love."

"Greatly enjoyable, this book was not a "light read" in that the content was compelling, deep, and inspiring. Go on a journey with Nadia as she struggles against God's love through deep pain and anguish, then rejoice with her as she finally finds peace. Excellent book . ."

"I absolutely loved this book. It grabbed me right from the first few pages. The tender love shared between Nadia & David was beautiful...but more important the message that with Gods help we can get thru anything. Amen!"

"Lisa Buffaloe's book offers hope and healing for the wounded heart. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a healing balm for an aching soul."

Nadia's Hope

Monday, April 13, 2015

Build an Author Resume

Build an Author Resume

Think back to your first resume. What did you include? Perhaps you had a part-time job in high school. Maybe it was flipping burgers, but it showed life experience (or at least the willingness to get out of bed). You continued to build your skills by attending college, participating in clubs, or picking up another job.

When you applied for your first professional position, you were able to develop a resume that highlighted extra-curricular activities, leadership positions, and work experience. You gathered repeated success in smaller positions to land the big opportunity—the job.

The same is true in publishing. Agents and editors not only look for authors who can write a page-turning novel with interesting characters and unique story arc but also professionals who can deliver a manuscript on time—and not just once, but multiple times. They’re interested in working with partners who can help make their business profitable.

How can you demonstrate that you’re an author who delivers? Not just pizzas but professionalism. Build your writing resume.

There are numerous opportunities to cut your teeth, develop your voice, and build credibility by starting small. Short stories, magazine articles, and contests are great avenues to increase your author resume. Then, when it’s time to pitch a novel, you not only have a great story idea, you also have a proven background.

So start today. Here are a few opportunities available now:

"Path to Forgiveness" Anthology - Faith by Grace Publishing*
· Fiction or non-fiction
· 2,000-10,000 words
· Theme: Stories about people who seek forgiveness
· Submission Deadline: May 1, 2015
· Website:

Havok, an imprint of Splickety Publishing Group

· Flash Fiction: 1,000 words or less
· Contest Issue ($10 entry fee)
· Submission Deadline: May 8, 2015
· Theme: Sci-Fi vs. Fantasy
· Website:

Splickety Love, an imprint of Splickety Publishing Group
· Flash Fiction: 1,000 words or less
· Submission Deadline: June 5, 2015
· Theme: Smitten Summer
· Website:

Windhover: A Journal of Christian Literature, The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
· Open submissions for poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, and creative nonfiction
· Submission Deadline: August 1, 2015
· Website:

Relief: A Christian Literary Expression
· Open submissions for fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, graphic narrative, interviews
· Year-round submissions accepted
· Submission Guidelines:
· Website:
*Sourced by

Christina Weeks is author of—quick reads posted on the first and fifteenth of the month. In addition, she’s published in short fiction and commercial publications. She’s also worked at Walt Disney World, flown in a stunt plane, and raced a stock car. You can connect with Christina at:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Brainstorming Your Novel

Brainstorming Your Novel
By DiAnn Mills

Every novelist reaches a plateau in which the perfect story idea isn't coming together. The plot germ is there, but the theme, setting, characters, and storyline seem to spin out of control. 

     By using the acronym, BRAINSTORMING, you can bring the whirling to a halt and anchor your writing onto a firm foundation.
     Believe in yourself. You've been given the gift of writing, and you’re pretty good at it. You understand the craft, and you’re continuously educating yourself to add more tools and techniques.
     Realistic writing is what sells. No matter the genre, your storyline must be credible with identifiable characters who react and respond according to the traits you've assigned them.
     Analyze your basic idea. How can you grow your characters by making their goals difficult, perhaps impossible to reach?
     Inspire your readers to attempt and achieve great things. Fiction is truth. Jesus spoke in parables and through His stories, people gleaned meaning and purpose for their lives. Don’t preach your message. Let the reader see who your characters are by the way they tackle life’s challenges.
     Name your book and your characters. Why is this important? Because the title of a book gives the writer passion for the project. Who wants to wake up each morning to the thrill of working on novel X? In the same way, your characters deserve names that mean something significant in the novel.
     Show don’t tell. Propel your story into action by incorporating body language, explosive emotion, purposeful dialogue, and unique settings. 
     Technique is essential to every story. To make sure your plotting is tight, ask yourself the following four questions before writing each scene.
     1. What is the point of view character’s problem or goal?
     2. What does the point of view character learn that he/she didn't know before?
     3. What backstory is revealed? (But not in the first fifty pages.)
     4. How are the stakes raised for the point of view character?
     Organize your thoughts into a file that contains all of your notes: plotting, research, characterization, and where you obtained the information. Go a step further and write a lengthy synopsis. I recommend plotting every scene. This doesn't stifle your creativity! You are the writer, and you can add, delete, and change whatever is necessary.
     Research is vital to every successful novel. If your novel takes place in your backyard, then research the weeds there. Do your best to visit the setting. Interview those who have the same careers or experiences as your characters. Use the services of a library, chamber of commerce, Internet exploration, and any other means of research to root your reader into the story. 
     Motivation is the key to every successful novel. You were motivated to begin a career as a writer. You were motivated to read this blog. Your characters are motivated by their wants and needs.
     Discover your character’s drive to see what he/she will do to achieve those wants and needs. 

This list is only the beginning to get your creativity flowing. Once you've completed the motivation aspect of your novel planning, the desire to write will soon take over. You’ll be ready to position your nimble fingers on the keyboard and speed off on another adventure!

Comment below and be entered in a random drawing for a personalized or e-copy of Double Cross.

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2015 president of the Romance Writers of Americas Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at

FIREWALL - Tyndale - July 2014
DOUBLE CROSS - Tyndale April 2015
DEADLOCK - Tyndale October 2015

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Study of Endings

A Study of Endings
By Natalie Hanemann 

It’s one of the hardest things a novelist does: ending the story. Or maybe it’s the easiest. I've worked with authors who write the ending first and then go back and fill in the rest. Is there a right way to end a novel? It’s not an exact science, of course, but if you've ever read a book and at the end, wanted to drop it in your paper shredder, then you know that the ending can make or break you as a novelist.

I've come across a string of stories lately with poor endings. 

Last week my kids found a movie on Netflix, Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart. They loved this movie but something happened in the last few moments of the story that changed their minds. They said they never wanted to watch that movie again. I googled the movie and there’s even a site where the ending is discussed:

At a library sale last weekend, I picked up There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly for my kids. I hadn't read it before but I liked the art work. I was shocked when on the last page of the book, the final line was, “There was an old lady who swallowed a horse. She’s dead of course.” Really!? The old lady dies? For the sake of the rhyme. Poor decision and potentially scarring to little kids.

In both of these examples, the protagonist dies at the story’s conclusion. Is it a mistake to have your hero/heroine die at the end? Not necessarily. You must take a few things into consideration. One is the genre. In less commercial, more literary novels, the protagonist’s death seems to be more tolerable. But what about a story where the hero’s death is sacrificial and helps to save the lives of others? This happens frequently and audiences seem to be able to handle it. This was the case in the recent Disney movie Big Hero 6. It was sad to see Baymax die, but my kids didn't feel betrayed because they saw the role his death played for the other characters in the story. Plus, Disney could bring him back in the sequel . . .

I recently edited a novel where the author ended the book with the protagonist getting shot and dying. It wasn't a sacrificial death; he just died. “What if he didn't die?” I asked the author. “But what will he go off and do?” the author wanted to know. Once your protagonist accomplishes their goal, should they just go live happily ever after? Is that realistic? Should it be? 

These are difficult questions and every story has its own, unique way it should end, but it isn’t always obvious. But here’s a universal guide to ending a story well: think about your reader. You should have their experience in mind as you write your novel and especially as you think about how it will end. If the ending isn't satisfying, they will be frustrated. They may blog about it or put a review online to vent their disappointment. They won’t tell their friends to read the book (word of mouth is so important) – they may even tell them NOT to read it.

Here are a few elements of a satisfying ending: Is the reader left feeling hopeful when they put the book down? Is there a promise of happiness for the protagonist (assuming they aren’t dead)? Was justice served? Did the bad guy get their comeuppance? Did good triumph? Did the problems get resolved?

In fiction, no resolution is rarely a good resolution. The danger is that plot threads can get too neatly tied up and a reader will roll his or her eyes at the end. You don’t have to spell everything out. Being subtle can help in not tying too neat of a bow. Everyone shouldn't get what they want. It can be annoying to read stories where everyone wins in the end. The art in closing plot threads is to balance being realistic with offering a satisfying conclusion.

A good ending isn't easy and can’t be rushed. Writing is highly creative and you, as the author, will have strong feelings about how the story should end, but before you complete that final scene, try to step outside of yourself and think about how a reader will feel when they turn the last page. Show your readers some love by considering their feelings.

And if you do, they just might reward you with their loyalty . . . and their recommendation.

Natalie Hanemann is a freelance fiction editor who lives in Franklin, TN with her husband and four kids. Visit her website at: