I’ve just been made aware of the upcoming open-to-submissions date for the next FREE Rotary Stratford Short Story Contest. The 2019 Rotary Club of Stratford Short Story Contest will begin taking submissions for short stories of no more than 2,500 words of any genre on MAY 1st, 2019.
Submission window is:
MAY 1st – AUGUST 31st, 2019
There are two categories, based on AGE—Youth & Adult.
19 and under-Teen (must have parental or guardian consent)
I honestly can’t believe this, but I get to move forward to ROUND 2 of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge 2019! The first cut of this challenge is the deepest. It just went from over 4,500 writers to only 750 writers in the 2nd round. Just after midnight last night (or, I suppose, this morning) the Round 1 results were posted. Not only did I make the Top 5 in my heat, but I made FIRST PLACE. I know, I’m just as flabbergasted as you are! But after I read the results three (or four, or five) times, I decided I was reading them correctly. It’s right there in black and white, come what may…
I have been writing short stories quite a lot lately, and they’re always set in cities that I have visited in the past few years. I decided not to stray from that theme with this one. I guess it’s working. My heat in round one had 3 stipulations. The genre had to be DRAMA, it had to involve PET-SITTING in some form or another and one of the characters had to be a FIANCEE. I wrote a story from the perspective of the apartment I actually stayed in while in Paris in 2014. I had the good fortune of being told by the hotel concierge when I arrived at my hotel on Rue St. Louis on the Island that they had a special apartment down the street. He said, “You’re a writer, no? We would like to give you the full experience!” He took me for a walk down the street and showed me a top floor flat with a view to a courtyard below. As if he was afraid I would say no and demand to be taken back to the hotel, he offered me a daily discount to stay in the incredible flat. He had me at hello. I saw the woman downstairs while I was staying in that flat. I put her in my pocket, knowing I would use her at a later date. Thanks to the NYC Midnight challenge, because the prompts called her willowy ghost back into existence.
I’m stunned, really…so so happy and excited too. I can’t wait for the next round, even though it terrifies me. I can work around the other stipulations, it’s the genre challenge I fear the most. I tend to stay in my lane as a reader and as a writer…which means I could definitely miss some of the subtle nuances of quite a few of the potential genres I could find myself facing. I shudder to think!
And I won’t have long to worry about the gunshot that goes off and sends a scary genre-bullet my way. THURSDAY AT MIDNIGHT—that’s when I’ll receive the 2nd round challenge. And the 750 writers still alive in this challenge will have 72 hours to submit their 2000 word stories for the next round of judging.
Here’s what the 2nd Round officially looks like:
I’m so thrilled that I held on to that woman these 5 years. When I run across my potential characters in real life, they sort of haunt me relentlessly until I get them on the page. She was particularly insistent. She’s free now. And I thank her from the bottom of my heart, both for sticking around and for pinch-hitting when I needed her most. Cheers to the woman downstairs in Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île, Paris! I am eternally grateful for ‘meeting’ you.
GOOD LUCK TO MY 749 FELLOW ROUND TWO WRITERS! Full disclosure: Every July I travel up to Huntsville, Ontario for the 72hr Muskoka Novel Marathon. That’s right…I write an entire novel in 72 hours. I’m ready for this challenge! BRING IT!
Two things. The first, I’m thrilled to announce the release of an anthology in which I have a short story! Love_Is_Love released yesterday (Jan 24/19):
Love_Is_Love: An Anthology for LGBTQIA+ Teens
All proceeds from the sale of the anthology go to THE TREVOR PROJECT (The leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth. The Trevor Lifeline: 866.488.7386.)
My story is called THIS IS ME IN GRADE NINE and it follows a trans girl in the moments leading up to her first day of high school.
Here’s some cover love for you! The strength of the Rainbow Fist in the Air is divine:
Okay, not quite the same thing…but close! The 2019 NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge kicked off Midnight Friday January 18th. We have 8ish days to submit our short stories for the first round of the competition. Each writer was sent an email with their 3 story stipulations: GENRE/SUBJECT/CHARACTER. The fun has begun. Here’s just a few samples of the first round heats:
Genre Subject Character
Suspense Impossible a witness
Thriller Witnessing a crime a hypochondriac
Comedy A raffle a princess
Political Satire Lying a fruiterer
Action/Adventure A standoff an engineer
Sci-Fi an exotic pet an interior designer
Fairy tale repetition a gunslinger
Suspense a secret club an intern
Drama photo shoot a composer
Crime Caper a backup plan a fixer
Fairy tale superhuman a cheesemaker
Spy mountain climbing a reporter
Romantic Comedy comfort food an x-ray technician
Romance procrastination a social climber
Comedy a labyrinth a meter maid
You get the picture. That’s just a few of the heats in the first round. If it was easy, it wouldn’t push us to become better writers, now would it? I purposely did NOT mention my heat in the sampling above. I have a few days left to come up with my story. I’m panicked but it’s a relatively calm panic for now. I’m exploring options, stopping and starting…attempting to find a groove that takes me to a finish line. False starts and retracing of steps are to be expected. I’m leaving myself breadcrumbs so I don’t get completely lost. I’m not worried about having something submission ready by the deadline. I just don’t know if it will be something on solid ground or not.
Good luck to all my fellow contestants! There are A LOT OF YOU! Don’t forget the part of the contest opener email that shared a hashtag for writers to use and connect. It’s a huge community. I’m sure we can commiserate and egg each other on along the way…see you in hashtag land…
#ShortStoryChallenge2019 If you plan on updating your progress in the competition on social media, make sure to use the hashtag #ShortStoryChallenge2019 so you can follow other writers and they can follow you!
Here we go. I am entered into the 2019 NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. It begins at Midnight tonight and it is my first foray into all this NYC Midnight business. This is the 13th annual challenge and I’m pumped for it but certain I’ll fair poorly. I’ll come back and let you know, once I get the boot…but for now, here’s how it works:
KNOCKOUT ROUND ONE:
(January 18-26, 2019), writers are placed randomly in heats and are assigned a genre, subject, and character assignment. Writers have 8 days to write an original story no longer than 2,500 words.
The contest judges will choose the TOP 5 STORIES in each heat and those writers will move on to Round #2. All other writers are given the boot.
KNOCKOUT ROUND TWO:
(April 4-7, 2019)where writers receive new assignments, only this time they have just 3 days to write a 2,000word (maximum) short story.
Whoa. The time between rounds?! I wonder if this is set up this way to mess with the writers’ psyches. I’d much rather prefer to jump right back into the ring, myself. Listen to me…as if I’d make it to round two! Judges pick finalist from this round, as well. And they get to move on to the third and final round. LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
THIRD & FINAL ROUND:
Remaining writers are challenged to write a1,500word (maximum) story in just24 hours (May 17-18, 2019) in the third and final round of the competition.
Begins in January and ends in May. Yikes! The prizes for the winners are QUITE SUBSTANTIAL. First Prize is $5,000.00USD + almost $1,500.00USD value in other writer-related prizes. You can see the whole list of prizes HERE.
The biggest benefit for all writers who enter is FEEDBACK. From the site, here’s the statement in regards to feedback. It can come not only from the judges, but also fellow contestants on the group forum:
Not only does every writer receive feedback from the judges for every story submitted, but a special review forum is available for the participants to submit their stories for review from fellow writers throughout the competition. During the Short Story Challenge 2018, there were over 9,500 comments made on the 700+ stories submitted on the forum. Click here to visit the forums.
Oh, just so you know…as of this blog post there are still a few hours before the registration deadline. Sound like a great idea? Then CLICK THIS LINK TO GET YOURSELF IN ON THE GAME (Scroll down to the CLICK HERE TO REGISTER button—but registration closes at 9:00pm EST today — Friday January 18th).
The first challenge will be emailed to contestants tonight at Midnight. I guess that’s where the name comes from!
GOOD LUCK, SHORT STORY WRITERS! May the words be with you!
(I’ll be back with my results at a later date—good or bad/head high or tail between my legs. You can’t win if you don’t try.)
What follows here is my short story Helen Finds Her Way to After, which won 2nd Place in the 2017 Writers’ Community of Simcoe County’s Short Story Contest. Unfortunately, the WCSC has since become defunct. My short story had been published on their website, which no longer exists. So, I’m sharing it here.
HELEN FINDS HER WAY TO AFTER
Both of Helen’s feet bled steadily as she walked. She fought to ignore the blisters making a nasty soup of blood and puss in the heel of each of her merino wool socks. It was nine a.m. With each passing hour she lost a little more of her will to carry on. She held on to the memory of her ex-husband’s laughter at the folly she displayed in thinking she could make this journey. She carried her daughter Meagan’s doubt, freely given when she had told her of her goal. Their lack of support was perhaps the only thing left to propel Helen forward to Santiago de Compostela. And to the apostle James, whose bones lay waiting for her there, whether she made it to the cathedral or not.
Must keep walking. It had become a mantra Helen hated just as much as she needed. Must keep walking.
Helen’s left baby toenail had fallen off two days earlier, somewhere between Sarria and Portomarin. She had mourned for a moment before bandaging up what was left and carrying on. Must keep walking. Rationality had left her long ago.
“Buen Camino,” a couple mumbled in tandem as they passed her by on a narrow dirt pathway leading to a cobbled bridge. Their walking sticks click-click-clicked as they walked by without looking up from the uneven ground.
“Buen Camino,” she said before reentering her gloomy thoughts.
Today I step my feet into the void once again. This reminds me, of course, of the quote from Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.
“100 years from now? All new people.” ~ Anne Lamott
When I first came back to writing somewhere around the turn of the millennium I dove head first into the soundbite world of both Anne Lamott and Natalie Goldberg. Lamott spoke to my urgency to marry my words with the sacredness of life. Goldberg spoke to my need to tell my secrets, to get down my words…to write down the bones.
“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” ~ Natalie Goldberg
The writing of both of these women thrilled me and moved me. They made me want to be not only a better writer, but a better version of myself. With her insistence on going deeper into the things you fear the most, Goldberg gave me the courage to write about those things I did not speak of…And Lamott, with her beautiful and tragic ‘100 years from now? All new people‘, made me think, ‘What the hell…I’m going to die anyway. Without a trace.’ We are transient…this alone should be enough to remove the fear of going deeper. The two women converged to make me a more fearless writer. Later, these teachings helped me to be a more fearless person.
Together, they brought me back to writing. In a new way…one I feared less. I have them to thank, one catchy soundbite at a time.
Today I released a LONG short story into the void. It will most assuredly get lost in the din of words riding the ether superhighway these days, but that’s okay. I’m fine with this. I’m only here for a little while. I wanted to write this story. I wanted to ignite a passion in maybe ONE person. One little person out there in the world of somewhere in the ballpark of 7.5 billion people. If the right person finds my short story set on the Camino de Santiago and says to themselves, “I want to go there,” my job is done. I myself have been ignited through literature…I’ve found my way to many a places in this way.
It’s been almost twenty years now since I have reignited my journey as writer, and I have since heard much smack-talk about both of these women. The words granola and hippy and earth mother, etc, etc, etc have been bandied about–as though they were negatives, no less! I have even heard gimmicky used—that one, I really can’t tolerate. These women have FED me. One should be open to find inspiration wherever they find it. In them, I found it in abundance.
What the essence of creativity really comes down to, in the end, is that we all have our own paths to walk. How we get to creative expression doesn’t matter. Hell, some of us never fully get there or have no desire to get there. Or find creativity in things others might not think of as conventional creative activities. We are all on our own paths. And in the end, in the bluntest and simplest of terms, we are all essentially walking to our graves. “100 years from now? All new people.” How we make that journey? Therein lies the rub.
Today, I made another little pit-stop on my own creative journey. My LONG short story LIGHT NEAR THE END OF THE WORLD is NOW live on Amazon and Kobo. If you take a chance on this short story, I hope you enjoy it. Even if it doesn’t ignite a spark of desire in you to get out there and walk the path to Santiago de Compostella, I hope it at least entertains you.
HOMEWORK: Don’t forget to search out those things that scare you today…and go deeper. Past the fear. We’ll all be gone before you know it. Today is the day…
Corinne began her Camino de Santiago pilgrimage way back in St. Jean Pied de Port, France, weeks ago. Exhausted, spent, and on the verge of giving up, she meets a pilgrim who gives her the inspiration she needs to carry on. But is it enough to get her there, to the famous cathedral at the end of the journey in Santiago de Compostela? Follow Corinne’s path along the Way of St. James as she struggles to carry on and to find herself along the way.