Looking Back on 2020 and Forward to 2021

2020 has been an difficult year for all of us as Covid 19 turned lives upside-down. Here at Writing to be Read and WordCrafter, we saw some great accomplishments, in spite of the fact that my genre theme schedule fell apart half-way through the year on the blog and content was a little more sporadic. I had to figure out how to adjust to my own “new normal”, which life changes brought my way, but they also led me to remember who I am. Now, I’ve analyzed and regrouped, and I’m ready to head into the new year with new ideas and projects.

WordCrafter’s 2020 Virtual Writing Conference

One of the biggest things for WordCrafter was the 2020 Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference back in April. We ended up with twenty-two distinguished authors, offering live stream and video lectures, and interactive workshops and discussion panels, with free content for the Facebook event and a Zoom platform for the interactive stuff. We had a good turn-out with only a few glitches, and we’re preparing to do it again in 2021.

WordCrafter Press releases in 2020:

Ask the Authors

In April, the Ask the Authors writing anthology was released after two years of compilation. This book is an ultimate writer’s reference with tips and advice from twenty-two authors, and it started right here, from a 2018 blog series of the same name. In November, the print edition of this book, (and all WordCrafter Press books), became available, as well.

Spirits of the West

The Spirits of the West western paranormal anthology resulted from the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, and was released in October. The winning story, “High Desert Rose”, was written by Enid Holden and is included in the anthology. The theme for the 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest was announced and WordCrafter Press is now taking submissions to be considered for next year’s anthology, Where Spirits Linger.

Hidden Secrets and Last Call

Two of my own books were also released. Last Call and Other Short Fiction is a collection of my short stories, and my paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, is now available in print on Amazon, but the digital edition can be purchased through other retailers. In the coming year, I will have a story in the Where Spirits Linger anthology, and I’m working on a new book, The Outlaw and the Rockstar which I hope will be ready to release before the end of 2021.

Raise the Tide

WordCrafter Press‘ first stand alone author’s book was released in December, Raise the Tide, a devotional book by James Richards. We also look forward in anticipation to adding the January release of a massive poetry collection by Arthur Rosch, Feral Tenderness, to this list.

Feral Tenderness

Writing to be Read 2020:

We had some great guests on Writing to be Read. On “Chatting with the Pros”, my author guests featured Diana Raab, Amy Cecil, Cherokee Parks, L. Deni Colter, and Kevin J. Anderson. I’m hoping to transform this blog series into a podcast, which can be accessed through the blog, in the coming year, and I hope you all will join me there. Other authors interviewed in 2020 included Mark & Kym Todd, Jade C. Jamison, and Alan Dean Foster. The most viewed interview was with erotic romance author Nicky F. Grant. Interviews fell by the wayside along with the genre themes, but I’m planning to bring back author interviews for 2021, and I’m working on a new blog segment, “The Authors’ Covid Coffee Clache”, which will address issues of the pandemic specific to authors.

Treasuring Poetry

Robbie Cheadle’s poet guests included Sally Cronin, Colleen Chesebro, Victoria Zigler, Sue Vincent, Annette Rochelle Aben, Christy Birmingham, Kevin Morris, Frank Prem, D. Avery, Geoff Le Pard, and Balroop Singh. Of course, each segment on “Treasuring Poetry” are filled with poetry examples and includes a review of the poet’s latest poetry collection.

Growing Bookworms

Robbie Cheadle’s “Growing Bookworms” has great ideas for promoting literacy in children. Topics discussed “Making Learning the Alphabet Fun“, “Reading and Mathematics“, obtaining a balance of parental approval, “Sir Chocolate and the Valentine Toffee Cupid“, the benefits of singing and rhyming verse for children, “Teaching Children to Read“, “Introducing Non-Fiction to Children“, “The Future of Education“, “The Great Roald Dahl“, “Chapter Books vs. Short Stories for Children“, “The Joy of Nursery Rhymes: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat“, and “Incorporating Reading into Christmas Activities“. The post with the most views this year was a “Growing Bookworms” post from 2019, “Developing Imagination and Creativity Through Reading“, and in fact, it is also the post with the most all time views.

Words to Live By

On “Words to Live By”, Jeff Bowles offers up his thoughts on writing and life, and writing life. In 2020, he reflected on “The Creator in the Creative“, “The Kid in the Machine”, “Sex, Love, Warfare and Death“, “Fear, Creativity, and that Pesky Pandemic“, “Love in the Time of Covid“, “Be Here Now (Sanity for the Modern Writer), and”Creative Legacy“. The most viewed “Words to Live By” post was “The Big Chill“.

Mind Fields

With Art Rosch’s “Mind Fields”, you never know what the topic will be, but in 2020, they included “T.V. Addicts Annonymous“, “Nightmare with Tracphone“, “The Power of Villians in Story Telling“, “The Big Grief or Computer Wipe-Out“, “The Air in the Sky“, “Obsession: Craving Flashlights“, “Curvature: An Essay on Discernment“. The most view “Mind Fields” post was “Am I Real“.

Super Heroes and Supervillains

In May, Jeff Bowles took over the spotlight as he took over the Super Heroes and Super Villians theme, with a look at “The History and Evolution of Comic Books“, “The Rise of the Comic Book Film“, “DC Comics Gets Animated“, “D.C. Comics vs. Marvel – Rivalry and Inspiration“, and a celebratory posts for comic books and super heroes, “Look Up in the Sky!

Craft and Practice

Also in May, Jeff introduced a new blog series “Craft and Practice”, filled with great writing advice, which covered topics such as “The Revision Process“, “To Self-publish or Not to Self-publish“, “Writing for Catharthis“, “Story Synthesis: The Ultimate Tool in the Tool Kit“, “To Comma or Not to Comma“, “The Odds and Ends of Worldbuilding“, and “What’s the use of Trunk Novels“. The most viewed “Craft and Practice” post was “Should You Write Every Day?“.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews

Jeff’s Movie Reviews” covered The Invisible Man, Birds of Prey“, Hamilton on Disney+, Bill and Ted Face the Music, The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Queen’s Gambit, and The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. The most viewed movie review post was for 1917.

Arthur’s Visual Media Reviews

“Art’s Visual Media Reviews” covered Homeland, Better Call Saul, 13 Reasons Why, Just Mercy, 13 Reasons Why (the later seasons), a critique of Marvel movies, and The Secret: Dare to Dream, but the most viewed review was a life review in “My Life with Jazz“. Unfortunately, “Arthur’s Visual Media Reviews” will not be appearing in 2021, but Art’s “Mind Fields” will be appearing twice a month.

My book reviews included Missing: Murder Suspected: True Crime Stories Brought to Life, by Austin Stone On Being a Dictator, by Kevin J. Anderson and Martin L. Shoemaker; Saint, by Amy Cecil; Heat: Book 1, by Jade C. Jamison; Old One Eyed Pete, by Loretta Miles Toleffson; Death Wind, by Travis Heermann and Jim Pinto; Severed Wings, by Steven-Elliot Altman; X Marks the Spot, an anthology of pirate fantasy tales edited by Lisa Mangum; Indominable, by J.B. Garner; Echo One, by Mercedes Lacky, Denis K. Lee, Cody Martin, and Veronica Giguere; the audio edition of Shadow Blade, by Chris Barili; Love/Madness/Demon, by Jeff Bowles; In the Shadow of the Clouds, by Jordan Elizabeth; Keeper of the Winds, by Jenna Solitaire with Russle Davis; Inspirational Visions oracle cards, by Judy Mastrangelo; The Freedom Conspiracy by Nathan B. Dodge; Disappeared, by Lucienne Diver; Fool’s Gold Rush, by Tim Baker; Terminal Sequence, by Dan Alatorre; Gunslinger, by Edward J. Knight; and Clay House, by Jordan Elizabeth. The top viewed review was Hold Your Fire, an anthology edited by Lisa Mangum.

Judging the Spurs

I was also honored to be a judge for the Writers of America’s Spur Awards and I reviewed my top six picks, and the winner of the western romance category, The Yeggman’s Apprentice, by C.K. Crigger. These were the best of the best, and I was honored to be given the opportunity to read and review them.

WordCrafter Book Blog Tours

Also, in 2021 Writing to be Read will be a host for the WordCrafter Book Blog Tours, so we’ll be keeping you up to date on several new releases as they come out. Robbie Cheadle will bring us a new blog series on nursery rhymes and fairytales, “Dark Origins”, and I plan to bring in a new series, “Writer at Work”, which will talk about different issues that writers face. Subscribe to this blog with one of the buttons in the upper right-hand corner to be sure not to miss this great new content or the tried and true content of continuing series on Writing to be Read in the coming year.

Dark Origins

Happy New Year and Happy Writing!

From Writing to be Read and WordCrafter

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My Letter to Santa

Merry Christmas 2020

Dear Santa,

I want to start by telling you that I have been a very good girl this past year. I’ve done everything I was supposed to. I always wear a mask in public and I try to stay at least six feet away from anyone around me. That’s not always easy to do when you’re in a store with people shopping up and down the aisles, but I have done my best, ordering many things online and only going into public when absoloutly necessary. And I sanitize my hands, my wallet, any cards that I used and anything I purchased, after every place that I go.

I’ve tried to give back, through the 2020 WordCrafter Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference, which WordCrafter hosted in April, when Covid 19 first began to spread and we were all ordered to stay in our homes and we were all still trying to figure out and adjust to the “new normal”. It was a great event, with twenty-two authors offering instruction and advice in live lectures, interactive workshops and panel discussions, and we had a pretty good virtual turn-out, and it provided an opportunity for all of my fellow authors to interact, learn and socialize virtually, as they would have had all in-person events not been cancelled, so I feel like I may have done a good turn for my profession.

Also in April, WordCrafter Press released the Ask the Authors anthology. This anthology is a great writing reference, where authors and potential authors can turn to find writing advice from seventeen different authors, because we don’t all write in the same way. Thank goodness. In October, we had another release, Spirits of the West, which is the anthology resulting from the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest. More recently, these anthologies and all WordCrafter Press books are now available in print, which not only helps me, but all the other contributing authors with increased chance of sale.

In addition to publishing my short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, and my paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, WordCrafter also aided two new authors to bring their work into fruition. Pastor James Richards of the Christian Cable Ministries television program, Raise the Tide, just released his new devotional collection, Raise the Tide, and author Arthur Rosch will be releasing his massive volume of poetry and photgraphy, Feral Tenderness, in early January. I’ve got some great things cooking for next year, too, like the WordCrafter Book Blog Tours or The 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, but I guess it’s too early to count those as good deeds, since I haven’t done them yet.

In years past, I’ve asked you for many things, mostly tools which I can use in my writing. This past year, I’ve been collecting the equipment needed to move into the audio and video realms, and I’m hoping to create a podcast with paid subscriber content, to enhance the Writing to be Read blog, so this year you may be expecting me to ask for a new video camera, or the extra money I need to put the podcast together, but that’s not what I’m going to ask for.

The past year has been a rough one for me, I’ll admit. Due to various life circumstances, I found myself unable to complete my B.S. in Marketing, which would have been completed in the spring of this coming year. But, as I look around me, I see local business owners shutting down their doors, people out of work and homeless, people grieving at the loss of their loved ones, and I realize that this damn virous hasn’t really been kind to anyone. Although I’ve had to make many adaptions to function while governments strive to get it under control, it has effected many others more harshly than it has effected me. I still have my home, my business and my health, and I am thankful for that, but there are so many out there this year who don’t. There are many out there whose needs make my own feel small and trivial. Between the virous and all the wild fires and riots of 2020, there are many out there who have lost everything and are attempting to start to build again.

So, this year, Santa, I’m asking that you deliver to those folks whatever it is they need to fill this Christmas with hope and make things a little easier for them. I know that in the end, I’ll be okay. So, this year, take care of those less fortunate than I. I’m a survivor. I’ve got a plan. 😉

Merry Christmas, Santa!

Your Friend,

Kaye Lynne Booth, M.F.A.

P.S. I will still leave the regular milk and cookies out, if you just want to stop in for a bite on Christmas eve. That sleigh travel can be hungry work. I’ll leave a few ears of corn on the roof for the reindeer, too. 😉

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Announcing the 2021 WordCrafter Paranormal Short Fiction Contest

Where Spirits Linger

I’m a sucker for a good ghost story. I think most people are. That is why Where Spirits Linger will be the theme for the 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest. WordCrafter Press is looking for quality paranormal stories in which setting plays a key role, for publication of its 2021 paranormal anthology. Haunted houses, hotels, cemeteries, and other places ‘where spirits linger’ are all fair game.

Guidelines

  • Submit a paranormal story in which the setting plays a key role. I want to read your ghost story!
  • Stories should be less than 10,000 words and have paranormal elements.
  • Flash fiction is accepted as long as it is a complete story, with beginning, middle and end.
  • Submit only works that are unpublished and for which you hold copyright.
  • Submit stories in a word doc, double spaced with legible 12 pt font, in standard manuscript format.
  • Submit stories to kayebooth@yahoo.com with Submission: [Your Title] in the subject line. Submit your $5 entry fee using the ‘Pay with PayPal’ button below.
  • Submission Deadline: April 30th, 2021
  • If you receive an invitation for the anthology, you will also be asked to submit a short author bio and photo.
  • No simultaneous submissions. You should receive a reply 30 – 45 days after submission deadline.
  • Multiple submissions are accepted with appropriate entry fee for each individual story.

All entries are eligible for publication in the Where Spirits Linger anthology, to be released in October 2021. The winning submission is guaranteed publication, and the author will receive a $25 Amazon gift card.

Contest Submission Fee

All contest entries are eligible for publication in the 2021 WordCrafter paranormal anthology, “Where Spirits Linger”.

$5.00

Previous WordCrafter Anthologies

Now Available in Print

Whispers of the Past
Spirits of the West

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What’s in a Genre?

Genres

I’ve discussed genres a lot here on Writing to be Read. I’ve done monthly genre themes, with author interviews and reviews of books included in each one. We’ve covered nonfiction, romance, western, fantasy, science fiction, young adult fiction, children’s fiction, horror, crime fiction, mystery, women’s fiction, Christian fiction, comic books and graphic novels, and the list goes on. Some genres were easy to find authors to interview and books to review. Others were a bit harder. Likewise, some attracted more readers than others.

Fantasy

Recently, there hasn’t been so many author interviews. I hit a bump in the road and was unable to fulfill my interview and review commitments. Now, I’m ready to jump back in the saddle and get things rolling again. As I contemplate what 2021 will look like for Writing to be Read, I’m wondering wether to keep the genre themes, or explore different areas in the craft of writing, and I would like your feedback. Chances are, if you’re a reader of this blog, then you are also a writer. Leave a comment and let me know which genre(s) you like to write in. Which genre(s) do you like to read? Which would you like to learn more about? Or should I trash the genre themes and concentrate on some other aspect? Which one? Let me know your thoughts.

Romance

I suppose there was a time when genres were more cut and dried, but in this day and age, genres don’t always fall into clear categories. Just take a look at the plethora of categories Amazon has for you to list your book under. When Delilah was published, I got a shock. I had written a western with a female protagonist, who was tough and gritty and made her way in the man’s world of the old west. Her character’s flaw was a lack of trust, and in order to get what she truly needed from the story, she had to have a love interest, so there was a thread of romance woven into the tale. It wasn’t the main story line, but my publisher had picked up on it and listed it as a “Frontier Romance”. Is that what I wrote?

Horror & Dark Fiction

Actually, it may have been a smart choice, even though it wasn’t my original intention. When we re-published the third edition with the new cover, I asked that they list it as a straight western, but it hasn’t helped with sales. Genre has as much to do with marketing as it does with craft. Readers of frontier romanace are a different group from those who read classic westerns.

Christian Fiction

The first group are mostly female and the second are mostly male, and they are looking for different things out of their stories. The women want romance, the men want rugged adventure, and it seems that maybe they want it to come from a big, burly mountain man or a rowdy cowboy. Men who read westerns don’t have the buy-in for a tough female character, but women who read romance have no problem with a female who is tough and gritty having the adventure, as long as she lets her gentler, feminine side show enough to fall in love.

Western

When I was working toward my M.F.A. in creative writing, I was told it was imperative to know who you are writing for, to form a mental picture of your ideal reader in your mind. But, I take an eclectic approach to most things, and writing is no different. I’ve tried my hand at many genres, some more successfully than others, and it can be seen from the example above that different genres have different readers. For me, I found I need to write what is in my head, and then figure out who to market to.

Children’s & Yound Adult Fiction

With the first WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, in 2019, I chose to make the theme paranormal, because most people love a good ghost story. It got a good response and the Whispers of the Past anthology was born. Each entry had paranormal elements, and they were all the type of stories that would make readers think.

Whispers of the Past

For 2020, my thinking was that the old west has a lot of ghosts, and western was a genre I write in, so a western paranormal would be a natural combination, so that was the theme. But, just as not so many people read westerns, not so many authors write in the western genre, and I think I scared many possible entrants away. I had to convince author friends that they could write in the western genre just to get enough entries to create the Spirits of the West anthology, but it contains some very unique stories. Robbie Cheadle contributed two South African western paranormals, playing off South African history, but with western flavor, and Art Rosch contributed a science fiction western paranormal, of the likes you’ll not find anywhere else.

Spirits of the West

As with Writing to be Read, I’m looking toward the future for WordCrafter Press, and it’s time to think about the theme for the 2021 contest and anthology, but I’m at a loss. The paranormal theme worked well, and so did the western paranormal after I coerced some entries out of my author friends. But, one purpose for creating the WordCrafter Press contests and anthologies was to open up avenues to get your work published for new and aspiring authors, and another was to motivate established authors to think outside the box, or work outside their usual genres. It shouldn’t be a struggle to get entries, but it should still offer a challenge for the writer. So, I’m going to ask one more question of all of you. Please leave a comment to let me know, what genres of short fiction you would consider entering, were they the theme for a short fiction contest. i.e. “I would enter a short fiction contest if the theme were…”

Writing to be Read wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for you, my loyal readers. Some of you have stuck with me since the blog began, while others are new sign ons, but I appreciate you all. Please share your own thoughts on genres and help us carry on and move forward together. I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

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Anthologies: An alternative path to publication

I’m seeing a lot of promotions for anthologies these days. This excites me because short fiction anthologies are a wonderful way for rising authors to gain new readers. If you look for them, there are plenty of opportunities for short fiction submissions and contest entries, and many of those hold the possibility of having your short story featured in a new anthology.

All authors want to see their work published, but full length novels take months or even years to craft and polish before being ready to consider publication. And if an author is considering the traditional route of pitching their work until they find an interested publisher, they could be looking at that manuscript gathering dust on the shelves for a very long time. Short fiction offers a chance for authors to get their names out there on multiple works in a much shorter period of time than it would take to write and publish multiple novels.

Even before I published Delilah, I had two short stories accepted for publication online. Then my story, “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, was accepted by Zombie Pirate Publishing and it appeared in their The Collapsar Directive anthology. I learned very quickly that one difference in having short fiction published in an anthology, as opposed to being published online, was the spirit of comraderie among all the authors featured. The other cool perk of being published in an anthology was the invitation to submit to the next planned anthology. Hence, my story, “The Devil Made Her Do It”, appeared in the next anthology ZPP put out, Relationship Add Vice.

The trick to getting into an anthology is to read the submission guidelines and submit a story that meets them. Most of the time, that may mean writing a story specifically for that submission call or contest. When I was invited to submit a story for Dan Alatorre’s Nightmareland, the guidelines were pretty general, “horror”, and I happened to have a piece of flash fiction that fit into the genre. All it required was a bit of polishing and my story, “The Haunting of Carol’s Woods”, was ready for submission and acceptance. But, many submission calls are more specific.

For the above mentioned submission to ZPP for Relationship Add Vice, submission guidelines required a story that contained elements of romance and crime fiction. Chances are that you don’t have a story sitting in your files with those elements and you would need to create a new story to submit to meet these guidelines. I did have the beginnings of one, as it happened, but that certainly isn’t always the case.

The submission guidelines are important. Read and follow them carefully. Other than the type of story, they may include specific formatting requirements and other submission instructions. Many publishers are strict about their guidelines and will put down a story without finishing it, if the story doesn’t meet even one of the specifications. Of course, that doesn’t apply only to anthologies. Every submission you make should conform to the given submission guidelines, whether we’re talking about short fiction, novel manuscripts, articles or poetry. Why read something if the submitting author can’t even follow directions?

With each of these anthologies, I got that same feeling of comraderie and networking with my fellow authors. I love that feeling. Because anthologies, by definition, have several different authors, they also carry with them the advantage of widening the pool of possible readers. Each author promotes the anthology to their reader audience, so it is possible to extend your own reach beyond your own reader following and gain new readers who read your work in the anthology and want to read more. It’s a win-win for all authors involved.

Naturally, when I started WordCrafter Press in 2019, the first undertaking was to launch a short fiction contest and compile and publish the resulting anthology, Whispers of the Past. The submission guidelines required a paranormal stort story and the contest winner received a $25 Amazon gift card.

Spirits of the West

For 2020, the contest submission call requested a piece of short fiction with elements of both the paranormal and western genres. It may have seemed a weird combination to some, but to me, it seemed only natural. The old west is filled with ghosts and spirits, and my first novel was a western. I think it was the western genre that threw potential authors off, but what resulted from this genre combination were some very interesting stories, including two South African ‘westerns’ by WtbR team member Robbie Cheadle, “The Thirstyland Journey” and “The Ghost in the Mound”, and a science fiction ‘western’ by WtbR team member Art Rosch, “Clouds in the West”. This author of this year’s winning story is Enid Holden, and she has two stories included in the anthology: the winning story, “High Desert Rose” and another paranormal western, “The Queen of Spades”. And my contribution is a story I wrote specifically for the occassion, “Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”. “Wenekia”, by last year’s contest winner, Jeff Bowles and “Gunsmoke” by author Tom Johnson are also included. This unique collection of paranormal westerns have been compiled into the Spirits of the West anthology and scheduled for an October release.

Authors can find calls for submissions or short fiction contests all over the internet these days. If you just look for them, you’re sure to find one that works for your writing style and preferences, or maybe one that offers a challenge and takes you into writing realms where you’ve never before ventured. In January, I’ll be announcing the theme for the 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, so be sure to watch for that, too. If you want to get your name out there, grow your audience and have people read your work, short fiction anthologies are a great start, or they can be a supplement to already published books. Find one that suits you and submit a story today.


A fun new writing contest from QueryLetter.com

Back when I was getting my screenwriting cohort at Western, I spent hours trying to come up with log lines for the screenplays I was writing. The idea is the same for writing a blurb for your book. Tell readers what the story is about in as few words as possible, preferably in a line or two, in a way that sums up the tale and catches the readers’ interest and makes them want to read the book. We’ve all seen them on the back cover of the book, and many of us have written more than a few. If you’ve never tried it, I’m telling you, it is harder than it sounds.

So, when I saw this blurb writing contest, offered by querryletter.com, of course, it caught my interest. The challenge is to write a blurb for a fictitous book, and the prize is $500 for the best blurb. Now that is a big enough prize for me to spend some time sharpening up my blurb writing skills. It sounded like it might be fun, so I decided to share it with my readers here. The best part is, there are no entry fees and you can submit as many blurbs as you’d like. But the deadline is September 15th, so don’t delay. May the best blurb win.

You can learn more about the contest guidelines here: https://www.queryletter.com/contest


WordCrafter Update: Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference & Short Fiction Contest Submission Deadline Approaching

WordCrafter promo 1

WordCrafter

April has been a busy month for WordCrafter. The 2020 Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference is tomorrow, April 28th. Wow! Even during all this Stay at Home stuff, time has just flown by. I can’t believe the day has already arrived. I hope everyone will join us. If you didn’t recieve an invite you can click on the link above to sign up, (just click on ‘Going’.) That gets you into the free Facebook event portion of the conference, where there will be a video or live stream presentation every hour, as well as author takeovers where you can meet some talented authors and converse via the comment section.

But that’s not all. You can also click on ‘Find Tickets’ to gain access to the interactive portion of the conference on Zoom. (Please do this ahead of time, so I have time to get the access information to you.) This portion of the conference will feature interactive workshops and panel discussions that you won’t want to miss, including the Keynote with Kevin J. Anderson. Each individual session is $5 or you can get an ‘All Events Pass’ and attend all of the sessions for $50. I know many of us don’t have an abundance of money right now, so I tried to keep this affordable.

SiP Header

WordCrafter’s 2020 Virtual Writing Conference

We have 22 presenters, (you can learn more about our talented presenters here), offering presentations, workshops and panel discussions.

  • Opening Introductions
  • “The Gateway to the Unknown: Poetry Thought Shop” with Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer – 9:10 am
  • “The Art & Craft of Writing” workshop with L. Jagi Lamplighter – 10 am
  • “Promoting Your Book BIG” with Dave Wolverton – 10:10 am
  • Short Fiction Panel: Lamplighter; Raine; Maberry; DeMarco; Wilber; Killiany-11 am
  • “The Power of Motivation: What your characters do and why” with Mario Acevedo – 11:10 am
  • “Visceral Story Beginnings” workshop with Sean Taylor – 12 pm
  • “Story Ideas and the Choices You Make” with Jason Henderson – 12:10 pm
  • World Building Panel: Lamplighter; Raine; Maberry; De Marco; Killiany – 1 pm
  • “Working with Other People: How to direct others successfully” with Anthony Dobranski – 1:10 pm
  • “Writing Across Genres” workshop with Chris Barili – 2 pm
  • “Creating Villains We Love To Hate” with Art Rosch – 2:10 pm
  • Keynote – “The Popcorn Theory of Success” by Kevin J. Anderson – 3 pm
  • “How to Swim Upstream: When you’re not mainstream in your market/genre” with Anthony Dobranski – 3:10 pm
  • The Ins & Outs of Writing Media Tie-Ins Panel: DeCandido; Maberry; Nash; Killiany – 4 pm
  • “Short Fiction” with L.D. Colter – 4:10 pm
  • Book Marketing Panel: Nash; Henderson; Wolverton; Alatorre – 5 pm
  • “Writing in the Face of Adversity” with Chris Barili – 5:10 pm
  • “The Savage Horror of Back Cover Copy” workshop with Anthony Dobranski – 6 pm
  • “The Importance of Promotion” with Bobby Nash – 6:10 pm
  • “Business Class Tarot” workshop with Anthony Dobranski – 7 pm
  • “The Business of Writing” with Keith R.A. DeCandido – 7:10 p.m.
  • “Bringing the Funny: How to Apply Humor in Your Writing” workshop with Jody Lynn Nye – 8 pm
  • Closing Ceremonies

Ghost Miner

While things have been busy in preparation for the conference, I don’t want anyone to forget the fast approaching deadline for the “WordCrafter 2020 Short Fiction Contest”, on April 30th. (See Full Submission Guidelines).There’s still time to submit your story, so put on the finishing touches and polish it up. I’m dying to read your entry!


ATA Cover

The great news is that Ask the Authors is finished and finally being released. It’s been a long haul and it was quite a project, but the result is a quality author’s reference no author should be without.

Buy Link: https://books2read.com/u/mdzvwO


WordCrafter Paranormal Anthology

Last, but not least, Whispers of the Past is on sale for .99 cents starting tomorrow, April 28th, 2020 through Thursday, April 30th at all outlets.

Buy Link: https://books2read.com/u/38EGEL


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Judging for the 2020 W.W.A. Spur Awards

Judging the Spurs

It was a great honor to be asked to be a judge for the Western Writers of America’s 2020 Spur Awards, but I had no idea what I was signing up for. I envisioned hours of luxurious reading in one of my favorite genres, while leisurely sipping wine and taking bubble baths, and once the event opened to entries last August, for a while, a new book came in the mail every day or two and it felt a little bit like Christmas.

I began reading the first entry right off, and kept steadily working my way through them. The inflow trickled off mid-September, although there were a few later entries that didn’t come until November and December. The stack of books were large, but I’ve always been an avid reader and I felt confident that I could manage it easily.

Then, as often happens, life got in the way. I lost two dogs within a month and a half of one another, and in November, had a death in the family, and for a time my life was turned upside down. My work schedule received adjustments and travel arrangements were made for the viewing and services, and writing and school were shoved lower on the list of priorities. Suddenly, everything was up in the air and all my leisurely reading time disappeared like a magician’s rabbit. Abracadabra. Poof!

During the last part of December, I started trying to get back on track and found some reading time to begin trying to catch up on the Spur entries. At this point, the stack of books I had left to read seemed immense, and I began to wonder if maybe I should be worried about getting all of them read in time. I admit, I had to cram at the end and read every night until my eyes wouldn’t stay open, but I managed to read every entry and send in my judging choices before the deadline.

It was harder than I thought it would be to be a Spurs judge. Not because I ended up playing catch-up on the reading, but because there were some many really excellent stories submitted to the western romance category, and I had to narrow it down to the top five. Making the choices as to which were best was really tough. The opportunity to read some of the best westerns of 2019 made it worth every struggle. It was great!

I took my role as a Spur judge seriously. While reading I noted things like how well-crafted the story was, how prominent the elements of western and romance were in the story, how historically accurate the story was, and how well the story captured and held my interest, to base my choices on. Now that the winners have been announced, I am able to provide you with brief reviews of the ones that were my own personal favorites. All of the books reviewed below I found to be well written and historically accurate to their time period, and each would receive a five quill rating in my regular book reviews. They were my top picks and they include the winner in the romance category and one of the finalists.

 


MollyfarMollyfar, by Bonnie Hobbs: This is one of those stories that is just a fun read. It has strong western elements in a classic romance tale, but the unique and interesting characters are what carry the story.

Sometimes in the old west you had to grow up fast, and life wasn’t always kind, especially to members of the female persuasion. Molly finds herself on her own in the west at a young age, at a time when the choices for a girl on her own were very limited. She’s on her way to becoming a soiled dove for a life of squalor when she meets Wade and it’s love at first sight. Wade vows take care of Molly, so there will be no need for her to go down that road, but he is young and there are several obstacles preventing him from following through. Then Molly met Heeshe, the new amorphidite brothel owner and they saved each other, but there was always a place in her heart for Wade, if she could only admit it and let herself surrender to him.

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This New DayThis New Day, by Harlan Hague: This book made Finalist. It has the strong western element of a true pioneer tale with a sweet romance that just feels right. The story line draws the reader in and doesn’t let go.  It made me cry.

When Molly’s husband dies, there’s nothing left to go back to. They sold up all their worldly goods to make the trek across the mountains to Oregon, and she is determined to complete the journey with her two children. She meets hardship and heart ache along the way, and Micah, a mysterious rugged rider, who turns up just at the right moment to save her from Jeb, an unsavory member of their party, who has had his eye on Molly and grown tired of just watching. Soon Micah is riding with she and the children, and bedding down near their wagon at night, working his way into the children’s hearts, as well as her own, but she has to wonder where he goes when he rides off for days and then, reappears. She has doubts as to whether she is strong enough to make it at times, but soon finds she doesn’t want to make it without Micah.

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The Express BrideThe Express Bride, by Kimberly Woodhouse: This story has western and romance elements that are prominent. Likable characters make you care, and a fun and playful story line makes you want to keep reading. Jaquelin (Jack) is a strong, gritty female protagonist, who you can’t help but like.

Since her father died, Jack has run the Pony Express station in his stead. And why shouldn’t she? Even if she had to mislead to corporation heads a little, implying that she was male by signing her letter Jack instead of Jacquelin, she knows the workings inside and out, and the riders all like her and look to her with respect. Then Elijah Johnson looking for a mystery woman from the past arrives, along with a U.S. Treasury agent, Mr. Crowell, enlisted to help uncover a suspected conterfeiting ring operating in the area. As she unravels the mystery surrounding her own past, she ponders who she is, and who she wants to be, and struggles with the nagging feeling that Elijah Johnson may hold the key to revealing the truth.

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The Outlaw's LetterThe Outlaw’s Letter, by Angela Reines: A classic romance story with a strong western element and a hint of mystery. Good, solid story line that is everything a romance should be.

Harriette “Hetty” Osgood is just school teacher in Kiowa Wells, but when a dying man stumbles into her school house, she vows to deliver a letter to his brother, Grant Davis. Dressed as a boy for safer travel, she sets off on an adventure to find Davis, and crosses paths with Conover Boggs, who she sent to prison in the past, and would like nothing more than a chance to make her pay. Boggs catches up with her just as she catches up with Grant Davis, who has ridden with Boggs in the past. To save them both, they claim to be married to fool Boggs. They have little choice but to help one another, but Grant is on a quest to clear his name and leave his past behind him. Could they each be what the other is really looking for?

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A Slip on Golden StairsA Slip on Golden Stairs,  by Joanne Sundell: I actually reviewed this book before I was asked to be a judge. You can see my original review of this book here.

This paranormal western romance is really two romances, one in the present and one in the past, in one tragic searches for both love and riches. Sundell does an excellent job of weaving the past into the present in a tragic and heartfelt tale of lost love and possibilities.

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The Yeggma's ApprinticeThe Yeggman’s Apprentice, by C.K. Crigger: Winner of the western romance category. Great characters and a captivating plot that draws you in and keeps you reading. Light natural flowing romance within a western setting and a truly enjoyable read. 

Wilke thinks her first solo job in Butte, Montana will be a piece of cake. Simply, lift the ledgers for the designated accounts from the bank safe for the client. What could be easier? But things quickly go awry when she finds there are two sets of ledgers and they don’t tally. Suddenly, she finds herself being pursued by the shady lawyers who hired her uncle, who will go as far as murder to cover their tracks. When Hixson rides her back to her hotel on his motorbike, they discover her uncle dead, Wilke finds herself on her own and in need of getting out of town with the falsified documents.

Hix agrees to help her, but gets more than he bargains for, when the shady lawyer’s henchman is waiting at the train station. Wilke isn’t sure she can trust Hix, there are several signs that he might have a shady past and could be an outlaw, but she doesn’t have much of a choice. Hix has reasons of his own for wanting to get out of  Montana, but he finds that Wilke is full of surprises, as they try to evade the bad guys.

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Are You Up To The WordCrafter Challenge?

Ghost Miner

I wanted the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest to be a challenge, to motivate authors and writers to reach outside their comfort zones and write a short story in a genre they maybe hadn’t tried yet. But, from the low number of entries received thus far, I’m wondering if I didn’t scare a lot of writers off when I named the genre as paranormal western.

It’s one of those combination genres that have risen up in recent times, also called weird westerns, that has both elements of western and elements of paranormal. I presented it as western ghost stories, because the old west has plenty of potential for ghosts. (Mark and Kym Todd’s Wild West Ghosts is filled with the stories of many real life characters whose ghosts are said to haunt the west today, if you’re looking for inspiration.)  However, I fear our friends abroad may be shying away because they just don’t know a whole lot about the American western frontiers.

While westerns usually take place in the American west, they don’t have to. The movie Quiggly Down Under, with Tom Sellak comes to mind, taking place in the Australian Outback, but with plenty of western elements. Every country has its own frontier history that helped to shape it, some may be still developing their frontiers. So, let me re-itterate, a western does not need to be set on the American frontier, but it does need to have some of the elements of the western genre. Man (or woman) against the elements, man (or woman) fighting for justice in an untamed landscape where the only law may be what he (or she) can manage to dole out. Western characters lead nomadic lifestyles, carry guns, ride horses, drink whiskey and face their own mortality, sometimes on a daily basis.

Weird westerns tend to use these elements, but they add elements of the paranormal or speculative fiction. I’ve reviewed a few and found their authors to be quite creative in combining the two genres. Chris Barili’s Hell’s Butcher series features a gun toting Marshall who is tasked with keeping all the outlaws in hell and tracking down any who happen to escape into the realm of the living. In DeAnna Knippling’s Chance Damnation is a paranormal western fantasy, where hell breaks through and wreaks havoc on the western frontier. And a book that I’m reviewing this month is Death Wind, by Travis Heerman and Jim Pinto, tells a tale of ancient Indian legends come to life. (You can catch my review of this book on Friday, March 20th).

So, with this in mind, I’m asking each of you to re-consider entering your own paranormal western short in the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest. It’s only $5 to enter, and the winner will be featured in the resulting anthology and receive a $25 Amazon gift card. Other entries may also be included in the anthology by invitation, so get those entries in to me by April 30. There’s still time, and you can find the complete submission guidelines here: https://wp.me/pVw40-49e


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Start the new year off writing with WordCrafter

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Those of you who know me and many of my long time blog followers, know that I am passionate about writing. Not just my own writing, but writing as a craft, to be shaped and honed. That’s why I began Writing to be Read, and why I’ve founded WordCrafter Enterprises to promote quality writing and aide my fellow authors along the way.

I’m excited to announce the launch of this affordable quality writing enterprise. Writing to be Read is celebrating its 10 year anniversary. Based on the same respect for the craft of writing and my own writing background and experience, as you’ve come to respect from this blog, WordCrafter is designed to aide in the author’s journey.

Being an author is more than just writing a book or two. You want the books to sell, so people will read them. That means your books need to be of good quality writing and you have to promote them, too, in order to increase consumer awareness or no one will know that your book exists. But, all of those things take up valuable time which could be better spent doing what you do best – writing. (Online writing courses will also be offered in the future to aide aspiring authors along the way.)

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Let WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services take over the tasks that take up valuable time which could be spent writing, and make your writing shine. Write it Right Quality Editing Services help make your writing the best that it can be. WordCrafter Social Media Copywriting & Book Promotions promotes your work, so you can spend more time writing. Produce and promote quality writing with WordCrafter.

Writing to be Read falls under the WordCrafter Trademark umbrella, as well as WordCrafter Press, which offers short fiction writing contests each year. (Learn more about the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest and submit your story by April 30th.) If you are a longtime follower or a recent fan of Writing to be Read, I hope you will drop in and see what WordCrafter has to offer busy authors. Find out what WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services can do for you.


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