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Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming promotes optimistic SF -- stories that inspire us to fight the good fight for another day. Committment to larger projects, the writer's sense of mission, joy of reading, the creative campfire of the SF community and the love of deserving protagonists are celebrated. We believe in heroes and striving to be what we believe in. It is also a news hub for content related to the Okal Rel Saga written by Lynda Williams.

6Mar/13Off

Interview with Kristene Perron

Kristene Perron

Kristene Perron

Kristene is a former professional stunt performer for film and television (as Kristene Kenward) and self-described ‘fishing goddess’. Pathologically nomadic, she has lived in Japan, Costa Rica, the Cook Islands, and a very tiny key in the Bahamas, just to name a few. Her stories have appeared in Denizens of Darkness, Canadian Storyteller Magazine, The Barbaric Yawp and Hemispheres Magazine. In 2010 she won the Surrey International Writers’ Conference Storyteller Award. Kristene is a member of SF Canada. Her novel, Warpworld, is the first in a five book adventure science fiction series, penned with her Texan co-writer, Joshua Simpson. The second book, Wasteland Renegades, will be published in July 2013. She currently resides in Nelson, BC, Canada but her suitcase is always packed.

Interviewed by Michelle Carraway

What would you consider your top three creative achievements to be?

The first is my co-written novel/series Warpworld, without question. I'm very proud of what Joshua Simpson and I have created, and the time and energy I have put (and continue to put) into this story borders on obsessive.

Second would be Birds Also Cry, a short story I wrote in 2010 that won the Storyteller Award at the Surrey International Writer's Conference. The award was nice but even better were the wonderful comments I received from judges Diana Gabaldon and Jack Whyte.

The last one is a bit strange but I occasionally do construction, as a "real" job, with my husband. When I have spare moments, I will write micro fiction on sheets of drywall, or plywood, anywhere that will be hidden from view. I love to imagine someone finding those mysterious scribblings decades into the future and wondering who wrote them.

How has science fiction affected your life?

I call myself a "child of Star Wars". I was seven when the film came out and it filled me with a permanent sense of awe. Star Wars was to me what the 60's were to hippies - you really had to be there. As a side note, back when I was still doing stunt work I would double for Lisa Ryder on the science fiction series Andromeda now and then, (she's a sweetheart and very talented, by the way). It was on that set where I fulfilled my childhood dream of flying my own spaceship with a good blaster at my side, just like my hero Han Solo.

What is your favourite science fiction author/book or universe?

No favourites. A cop-out, I know. Douglas Adams and his Hitchhiker books will always have a special place in my heart, though. Humour is underrated and doesn't get as much respect as it deserves. Conversely, Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake sent a chill down my spine from which I've yet to completely recover.

How did you first hear about the Okal Rel Universe?

I've been living the gypsy life for about ten years now, often hanging my hat in places with not even a library and sketchy Internet connections - so I've been out of touch. In 2009 I moved back to civilization but immediately launched into Warpworld and 8 -14 hour writing days. I've just come up for air and I'm thrilled to have time to read and discover new authors again. I found Lynda and the Okal Rel Universe when I was accepted as a member in SF Canada and I look forward to diving in!

What life experiences have contributed to your creative endeavours?

Too many to list? I've lived in Japan, Costa Rica, Mexico, the Cook Islands, etc, etc. I was a professional stunt performer for 10 years. I've made and lost (small) fortunes. I once rode through a white squall in the Bahamas, in a 25 foot fishing boat, with my husband...and my cat. Life really is stranger than fiction.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

Everything, everywhere, every day. I'm a bit of an inspiration whore.

What advice would you give to fellow/aspiring writers?

Stephen King said it best "Read a lot, write a lot." I would only add "...and don't give up."

On Twitter: @kristene.perron

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/warpworld

13Feb/13Off

Interview with Hayden Trenholm

Hayden TrenholmHayden Trenholm’s stories have appeared in On Spec, TransVersions, Neo-Opsis, Challenging Destiny, Talebones, Gaslight Grotesque and on CBC radio. In 2008, he won the Canadian Science Fiction Aurora Award, "Like Water in the Desert." He won a second Aurora in 2011 for his short story, “The Burden of Fire.” His first SF novel, Defining Diana, (Bundoran Press 2008) and sequel, Steel Whispers, (2009) were nominated for Aurora Awards in the novel category. Stealing Home, was published in August 2010 and received an Aurora and a Sunburst Award nomination. He recently edited a collection of short stories called Blood and Water.

He lives with his wife and fellow writer, Elizabeth, in Ottawa where he works as a policy analyst for the Senator for the Northwest Territories. He has a B.Sc in Chemistry and a B.A and M.A in Social and Political Thought. In the past he has served on numerous arts and other Boards and worked for many years as the coordinator of a “learning through the arts” school program. He spent 6 years in the 1990s as a full-time writer, actor and director (and part-time bartender).

Interview with Hayden Trenhom by Michelle Carraway

When did you first become interested in publishing?

Until last year, my main interest in publishing was the same as most writers, that is, on getting published. I followed trends and listened to panels as an 'interested observer.'I had a few discussions with my writers' group on putting together an e-book of our previously published work -- mostly as a learning exercise to see how self-publishing worked or didn't work. I had edited a few newsletters and other documents for work or for some ofthe organizations to which I belonged but my first taste of real editting came when I put together the Blood and Water anthology in 2012. Still, I had not seriously considered being a publisher until early November when Virginia O'Dine approached me with an offer to sell me Bundoran Press. Once I thought about it, I saw it as a natural progression of my career and took the plunge. See http://bundoransf.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/how-i-got-the-dream-job-i-didnt-know-i-wanted/ for a few more details.

Is running a publishing company a difficult job?

It is hard to say at this point -- I've only been doing it for a month! However, it is clear that running a publishing company is no more or less difficult than managing any complex, multi-faceted enterprise. There are a number of skills you need to have or master to succeed. Attention to detail is vital but you also have to retain the big picture. Before embarking on this venture, I formulated a vision of what I wanted to do and put together a plan for the first two years of operation. I needed to consider how much money and time I was prepared and capable of putting into it (given I have a job and still want to keep writing). Every decision going forward has to refer baqck to that vision -- otherwise it becomes too easy to drift off target. And as a small publisher, I have to do a lot of the work myself or find reliable contractors to take on specific functions. There's a lot to do from acquiring and contracting novels, working with writers on edits,layout, purchase of cover art, copyedits, proof reading, hiring a printer, storage (including physically moving a lot of books), e-book conversions, dealing with distribution, special events, publicity and marketing, wholesale and retail sales, accounting both for the business and for royalties. Holy smoke! What have I gotten into?

What sorts of things do you publish?

Up until now, Bundoran Press has published a range of speculative fiction from paranormal romance to fantasy to science fiction. While I will continue to support and work with my existing authors, for the foreseeable future I intend to focus on science fiction novels, plus the occassional themed anthology of original SF stories (which I will edit.)

What would you consider your top three achievements in life to be?

Living this long? I've done a lot of different things over the years and had numerous acheivements -- big and small -- that are important to me if no-one else. I'll give you a list of the ones that come to mind and you can choose which are the top.

  • Getting a First Class Honours B.A in Sociology/Political Science a year after I got a B.Sc in Chemistry/Mathematics with distiction obtaining 18% of the vote as the 25-year old candidate NDP candidate in the 1980 federal election in one of the most Conservative ridings in Canada
  • Writing the first government "HIV in the workplace" policy in Canada for the government of the NWT.
  • Being a key advisor to the Premier of the NWT for two years Winning the Three Day Novel Writing Competition
  • Helping to rejuvenate the Alberta Playwrights Network in 1993 with two time GG-winning playwright, Sharon Pollock.
  • Restoring one actor's faith in the theatre through colour-blind casting
  • Winning the Alberta Playwriting competition
  • Writing the Steele Chronicles -- all three of which were nominated for an Aurora Award and one for a Sunburst as well
  • Winning the Aurora Award twice for short fiction

How has science fiction affected your life?

I started reading SF when I was about 8 and there is no doubt it led me to being a science student and going to University to study Chemistry. It also instilled in me a life-long interest in all things scientific. For the last 18 years, almost all of my writing has been in SF and now it has lured me down the dark alley of publishing.

What is your favourite writer/author/book or universe?

Despite my love of science fiction, my favorite book of all time is Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemingway and he is probably my favorite author as well, though Chinua Achebe and Umberto Eco are close seconds. My early SF loves were Asimov, Heinlein and Andre Norton. These days I read widely both in and out of the field, including Tim Winton (absolutely brilliant Australian writer), Michael Chabon (who is both in and out), Robert Sawyer, Rex Stout (love Nero Wolf), Ken McLeod, Ian McEwen, Jonathan Lethem, Joe Haldeman and on and on. As to universes, both Bujold (Miles Vorkesegian sp?) and Cherryh (Merchanters series) are great and I'm a huge Trek fan, but my favorite universe is that of Sherlock Holmes (I've read every original story at least 3 times and tons of pastiches; I've even had two published myself).

How did you first hear about the Okal Rel Universe?

I've known Lynda for a number of years (going back to the original books from Edge) so I guess it was by osmosis.

What life experiences have contributed to your creative endeavours?

All of them is the easy answer. Becoming an atheist at the age of 14 and being intensely politically active as a socialist from my teenage years into my thirties. The death of my father when I was 24; his stories made up a huge part of my novel, A Circle of Birds, which won the 3-day novel writing competition. Living in northern Canada for 9 years plus travelling extensively in Mexico. Acting and improvisation was a great lesson in writing dialogue (I highly recommend it to all writers). Working in a multitude of jobs from policy analysis to general labour. Being poor and being affluent on several different occasions. Learning to play the saxophone very badly and a life time of immersion in listening to all types of music contributed to the rhythm of my writing. Writing policy briefings for Cabinet taught me a ton about writing clearly, quickly and with powerful narratives. Yeah, I was right the first time: all of them.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

The ocean, great writers, people who are passionate especially about social issues.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don't give up your day job -- it's not the money, it's the necessity of regular human contact to keep you from being self-absorbed. Write often -- though not every day, then it becomes a chore. Revise, revise, revise. Have something to say; don't be afraid to say it; don't chase someone else's dream; your own is plenty big enough.

6Feb/13Off

Interview with Garth Spencer

Interview with Garth Spencer by Michelle Carraway

Garth Spencer

What would you consider your top three creative achievements to be?

You should ask me again in about five years. Until now, I mostly been active as a fanzine fan. The most creative things I've written were absurd crank theories for the Royal Swiss Navy Gazette, collectively titled "Dementia Helvetica"; or faanfiction pieces, satirizing my friends and their foibles, with the names all changed.

What are your hobbies and how do they affect your creative pursuits?

My hobbies are my creative pursuits - reading SF and fantasy, writing for fanzines and Facebook and an apa, and recently writing some fiction.

How has science fiction affected your life?

In my formative years it offered an escape from mundane life, when I needed one; it also offered examples of reasoned speculation, at the age when a child's imagination is opening up. It helped me become literate, and to comprehend foreign kinds of English. Above all, I learned how much of life we take for granted, and how many fundamentals keep changing, and can change again.

u once said that you had issues with the term 'sci-fi', could you explain why this is?

Speculative fiction has gone by a few differnt terms, from Gernsback's "scientifiction" to Forrest J. Ackerman's "sci-fi". What seems to have happened is that, at least from the 1960s through the 1990s, "science fiction" was the term most often used for the good stuff, almost entirely in written form, most closely based on real science, and "sci-fi" was most often used for crap, the kind of movies and writing that people make fun of, with a good deal of justice. But a lot of people don't know the difference between the good, solid stuff and crap, either in SF or in the sciences.

For a number of reasons, science fiction was known for a long time by examples of sci-fi, usually involving spectacular and absurd adventures, and preposterous excuses for science. I have recently heard a tale that many of the worst 50s B-movies were the result of criminal organizations laundering money through low-quality movie productions. The dismaying thing is how far these productions formed the popular impressions of science and technology, even while some of the best, classic science fiction was being published.

Theodore Sturgeon was once on a convention panel with a character who kept dragging in the worst examples of science fiction to call the whole field crap. Sturgeon finally said, "Of course 90% of science fiction is crap. 90% of /everything/ is crap." Absolute silence from the audience. He then added, "The 10% that's left is worth dying for." Since then, this rule has become famous as Sturgeon's Law. It helps explain things like Internet and social network discourse.

What is your favourite author/book or universe?

Tough to pick just one. If pressed, I would pick Lois McMaster Bujold and her Miles Vorkosigan universe. If you're unfamiliar with this, she projected a future history with just three unproven assumptions: that a means of faster-than-light travel is invented, that habitable planets are reached and colonized, and that new biological technologies allow for some politically explosive practices - cryogenic preservation, extra-uterine reproduction, cloning, advanced gender reassignment, and the search for life extension.

How did you first discover the Okal Rel Universe?

I heard about it at a VCON.

What life experiences have contributed to your creative endeavours?

The people I grew up with, who were kind of a challenge to communicate with; the times when sciences or mathematics or mechanics or construction toys worked for me; experiences that are harder to articulate, like a sense of place, or empathizing with a cat or dog as you pet them.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

Ask me again in five years, and I might know what inspires me.

What advice would you give to fellow/aspiring writers?

Either you write, or you don't. I tend to put it off too much.

30Jan/13Off

Interview with Doug Smith

Doug Smith

"Doug Smith is, quite simply, the finest short-story writer Canada has ever produced in the science fiction and fantasy genres, and he's also the most prolific. His stories are a treasure trove of riches that will touch your heart while making you think."

Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Hominids and FlashForward.

Douglas Smith is an award-winning Canadian author of speculative fiction, with over a hundred short story publications in thirty countries and two dozen languages.

His collections include Chimerascope (2010) and Impossibilia (2008), as well as the translated fantasy collection, La Danse des Esprits (France, 2011). His first novel, The Wolf at the End of the World, will be released in 2013.

Doug has twice won Canada's Aurora Award, and has been a finalist for the international John W. Campbell Award, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Bookies Award, Canada's juried Sunburst Award, and France's juried Prix Masterton and Prix Bob Morane.

A multi-award winning film based on Doug's story "By Her Hand, She Draws You Down" will be released on DVD this year, and other films based on his stories are in the works. Doug's website is smithwriter.com and he tweets at twitter.com/smithwritr.

Interviewed by Tegan Lott

What originally brought forth your idea for your "Foreign Market List"?

I honestly can't remember how long I've had the FML up and running, but it would have started around 2000. I was selling my short fiction regularly by then and was also selling some reprints. Somewhere I came across a reference to a German anthology series that was looking for stories, including stories originally published in English, which would be translated at no cost. I sent them two stories, which they accepted for two separate anthologies, one SF and one fantasy

This got me interested in foreign language markets for my stories, so I started to research how many might be out there. The industry magazine, Locus, ran articles periodically reporting on the current state of science fiction and fantasy in other countries, and these articles often mentioned local short fiction markets in those countries. From there and from Google, I gradually built a list of the various non-English short fiction genre markets around the world.

Since I found it useful, I assumed that other writers might as well. I was also looking for something to add some extra value to my website, so once the list grew to a sizeable number of markets, I added it as a feature to my site. Having it on the website also brings the advantage that writers and editors regularly provide me with updates, additions, corrections to the information on the FML, so everyone gains since the list is kept as current and accurate as possible, thanks to all the various interested parties.

How does this "Foreign Market List" work? What, in your eyes is it achieving?

I'll answer the second question first. When considering potential markets for short fiction, most writers overlook the many non-English language genre magazines and anthologies published around the world. The list helps them find those markets and sell to them.

If you're a writer, perhaps you're wondering why you'd want to submit to a market that publishes in a foreign language, especially if you can’t read that language. Well, foreign short fiction sales bring multiple benefits to a writer.

First, it simply can't hurt your public profile to have your work published in thirty languages and two dozen countries (my personal total). This exposure broadens your audience of readers. If you write novels as well as short fiction (or plan to), a resume of short story sales in non-English markets can assist in foreign rights sales for your longer work, as can the relationships and contacts that you'll build with foreign publishers, editors, translators, and illustrators.

As an example of this, when I began the FML, I sold a number of stories to a dark fantasy magazine, Ténèbres, in France. The editor, Benoit Domis, told me that one day he would like to publish a translated collection of my fantasy stories. This finally came about in 2011 when he formed his own small press, Dreampress, and published my collection, La Danse des Esprits. That collection was a finalist for France's juried Prix Masterton and Prix Bob Morane earlier this year.

One of my Aurora Award wins also came directly from submitting to Ténèbres, as I was able to submit the translation of my story "Spirit Dance" to the fine French-Canadian magazine, Solaris, which only accepts stories in French.

And, of course, anything you make from these sales is found money. Yes, you'll generally get less for foreign reprints than you did for selling first rights to a professional English market, but remember that you can sell your reprints in multiple languages. My foreign language sales have ranged from $30 to $300 per story, averaging about $100 per sale – so with sales to several foreign markets, you can easily pick up an additional few hundred dollars per story.

Also, if you're a beginning writer, there's the fun factor--the chance to see your name alongside of some of the biggest names in fiction. Even when I was starting out writing short fiction, my foreign language sales let my name appear with the likes of Steven King, Neil Gaiman, Larry Niven, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick, Tanith Lee, Neal Stephenson, Orson Scott Card, Frank Herbert, not to mention James Branch Cabell and H.P. Lovecraft. Plus, as an added bonus, many foreign magazines will also include beautiful illustrations for your story that you won't get in even the pro English markets and which make a great visual addition to your website.

As for how the FML works, it's pretty straightforward. The FML lists over seventy active markets in thirty countries, arranged by country, with a country index. Each market contains information such as their website, editor and contact information, pay rates, what types of fiction they publish, preferred word lengths, and submission instructions.

I also include a suggested strategy as part of the FML site, advising writes on how to choose a market and also how to choose what they submit to these markets.

Here are the rules that I follow:

Rule 1: Never submit a story to a foreign language market until you have first sold it to an English-language market.

Many of the top English genre fiction markets have foreign language editions or will ask for an option on foreign language rights. Selling a story to a non-English market first could jeopardize a more prestigious and lucrative English first-rights sale. In addition, it’s a lot easier to sell to a foreign language market if your story has the credentials of a major English market.

So that means you are looking for non-English markets that will accept reprints of stories that have appeared in an English market somewhere in the world. That immediately limits your choices.

Rule 2: You are looking for markets that will accept unsolicited submissions.

Although most foreign language magazines publish reprints from English markets, many select those stories themselves from a review of the top magazines such as Asimovs' or the Magazine of F&SF, after which they will approach the author or editor directly. Alternatively, some foreign markets have an agreement with the top NA magazines to reprint selected stories (which is why some top English pro markets purchase foreign language rights). Regardless, these markets don’t accept direct submissions from an author. You may still end up with your story in these magazines, but you have no control over the decision, beyond writing a great story and selling it to a top English market.

Rule 3: Unless you are multi-lingual, you are looking for markets that accept submissions in English and will translate your story at no cost to you.

In my experience, any market that accepts submissions in English will translate at no cost. Some markets, however, will accept reprints and unsolicited submissions (rules 1 and 2), but only in the language of the magazine.

So the above discussion leads us to my definition of a valid foreign language market:

A market that accepts unsolicited submissions in English of stories that first appeared in English language markets, and translates them at no cost to the author.

The FML makes it easy to identify valid markets, by flagging them as follows:

  • $$$ – Confirmed valid market (paying)
  • YES – Confirmed valid market (no pay or pays in copies)

The FML also includes "non-valid" markets (so you don't waste time submitting to a market that you may have heard of) as follows:

  • NO – Market exists but does NOT accept unsolicited subs in English
  • DEAD – Dead market
  • ??? – Market under investigation or questionable

Most of these markets take submissions by email, but writers should check the market's FML entry for how to attach their story (text in body, type of file attachment, etc.), and they should follow the same rules as when submitting to an English market in a foreign country: proper manuscript format, cover letter or email, and for postal submissions, an SAE with two IRC’s. Some of the markets that only take postal submissions will at least reply via email, so you can save on those expensive IRC’s. Payment is generally in USD or in Euros for most of these markets, and many of the paying markets now provide a PayPal option.

However, selling to foreign markets does come with some problems. Payment logistics can sometimes be challenging. Some markets will pay only in local currency or via bank transfer, both of which involve banking fees. Some of the larger markets require the author to submit an invoice to their payables department before they'll issue a cheque (a cheque usually drawn on a foreign bank, which is not easy to cash even in a large North American city). Some will also deduct a local income tax withholding amount from the payment.

Response times can also be very long. But remember that you can submit simultaneously to several of these markets since the rights that they purchase are specific to their language and don’t conflict with other foreign markets. In addition, most will respond to email queries regarding the status of your submission.

Communication with the editor can also sometimes be challenging. Many of these editors have excellent written English skills, but some do not. However, in most of the latter cases, the magazine will employ a foreign language acquisition editor, so these difficulties tend to be the exception.

Language can also be a barrier to staying current with any of these markets. The FML includes links to the web sites for most of the magazines, but these sites are generally not in English. Fortunately, I receive regular updates from many of the editors or from submitting authors regarding changes in a foreign language market, and then post these to the FML.

Remember also that these markets face the same challenge in staying alive as do English language genre magazines. Many (even the paying ones) are run on a for-the-love basis, so production schedules can vary wildly, as can the time frame for receiving your payment and contributor copies. And some will have short lifetimes. I've had about a dozen foreign languages sales where the story was never published because the market folded. Out of those sales, I've also unfortunately had three situations where I had to involve the SFWA grievance committee to extract payment for a published story. I've only had one situation where I was never paid, but in that case, neither were the editor or the translators.

What sort of interests/ skills do you have outside of Science Fiction and this Market List?

My wife and I live north of Toronto, and we have two grown sons and a beautiful granddaughter, all of whom are close by. I work for a large professional services firm as an IT executive, a job that requires extensive global travel, which gives me a chance to see a lot of places and cultures around the world, which I really enjoy. I'm an avid cyclist, moviegoer, reader, bridge player, and fan of all things in the Whedonverse, especially Buffy.

9Jan/13Off

The Marlene Awards – Deadline for Submissions January 15,2013

Jean Marie WardJean Marie Ward writes fiction, nonfiction and everything in between, including art books, novels (2008 Indie Book double-finalist With Nine You Get Vanyr), and short stories such as the 2011 WSFA Small Press Award finalist “Lord Bai’s Discovery” (from the anthology Dragon’s Lure) and “Personal Demons” in the award-winning anthology Hellebore and Rue. She edited the web magazine Crescent Blues for eight years and now writes for other online venues, including Buzzy Mag. Her web site is JeanMarieWard.com.

Interviewed by Michelle Carraway

Could you explain what the Marlene Award is awarded for?

The Marlene Awards are an annual contest for unpublished romance novel manuscripts sponsored by Washington Romance Writers, the Washington, DC, chapter of Romance Writers of America.

What is the criteria for entering?

The complete rules for entering can be found at http://wrwdc.com/marlene-contest-2/entry-rules-and-submission-link/ But the short form is we're looking for the opening pages of a book-length unpublished manuscript in one of six romance categories: Contemporary Series, Single Title, Historical, Paranormal, Romantic Elements and Young Adult.

Writers in other genres shouldn't be scared by the romance label, however. The genre is very broad. Series, Single Title and Historical submissions need to be relationship driven, with the focus squarely on the relationship and ultimate Happily Ever After of its hero and heroine (or hero and hero, or heroine and heroine--our contest doesn't put limits on that, though some judges may be more sympathetic than others). You have more latitude with Paranormal, Romantic Elements and Young Adult, but the romance between the principals needs to play a major role in the plot, driving at least 40 percent of the action.

The other important thing is the manuscript must be unpublished. It used to be RWA chapters restricted their contests to "unpublished writers", but with the explosion of indie publishing, it became impossible to define a "published writer" according to the old criteria--published with a sizeable advance by a traditional New York publisher. For example, can you say that Amanda Hocking wasn't published before St. Martin's offered her a contract? Alternatively, how long does it take before a traditionally published writer loses their "published status"? Five years? Ten years? Twenty? What about if they're making money selling directly to their fans? How much money does it take before they regain that status?

It got too crazy. The only thing you can be sure of in today's publishing environment is whether a manuscript is published--i.e., released for sale or wide distribution--or not. So WRW's officers opted to take the contest in that direction. After all, whatever your authorial status, unless you're a bestseller, a writer is always looking for two things: a paying market and good critique.

What is the prize for winning?

Winners in each category receive a critique by a published author, a silver and mother of pearl pendant, and a certificate of achievement. Some receive offers for their winning manuscripts by the final round judges. That happened to two of last year's category winners. A third received an offer for her manuscript from a different editor within six months of winning.

Most entrants, however, focus on having their entry submitted to the final round judges. The final round judges are editors actively acquiring for their respective publishing houses. Finalists know the editor will read their work and come to a quick decision. They won't be left in submission limbo for months or years.

But every entrant's manuscript is reviewed by three first round judges, many of whom are published writers. The score sheets cover ten specific area and provide several sections for lengthy commentary. In addition, judges are encouraged to comment directly on the manuscripts. This means that every entrant is a winner in the critique department.

What is your personal connection to the Marlene awards?

I've been a WRW member for more than ten years, and like most writers I wanted to pay forward all the help and mentorship I've received from chapter members. I coordinated the contest in 2002, way back in the Stone Age when we still required hard copy submissions. For several years, real life kept me too busy for a repeat performance. But a few years ago, I volunteered to coordinate the Paranormal Category. When our last contest coordinator, Candy Lyons, became chapter secretary in 2011, I offered to help out with the 2012 competition. Thanks to the truly fabulous team of category coordinators Candy put together, I'm still at it.

Why was the Marlene Award begun?

The Marlene Awards were first offered in 1996 in fond remembrance of writer and chapter member Marlene Montano. The purpose has always been to give aspiring writers a leg up on the submission process. In that sense, the critique provided by the first round judges is as important as the selections made by the editors in the final round. Over the years, several winners, now multi-published writers, honed their craft by repeatedly entering the contest until they had a publishable manuscript.

What advice to you have for people thinking of entering the awards?

Read the submission criteria carefully http://wrwdc.com/marlene-contest-2/entry-rules-and-submission-link/ If you've got any questions, please, ask the category coordinators (they really are amazing!)--or me http://wrwdc.com/marlene-contest-2/contest-contacts/ Most importantly, submit your very best work.

What is the most common mistake people make when submitting a manuscript to the Marlene Awards?

That's a complicated question. Formatting to submission guidelines has become a lot easier since we went to an automated submission process. Almost no one gets disqualified for improper formatting anymore. Beyond that, success depends on a combination of good writing and the enthusiasm of the first round judges. It's hard to pin that to specifics.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Don't give up.

Consider all critique and criticism of your work. You don't have to agree with it, much less accept it. But it's like what your mother told you about vegetables--try it before you dismiss it.

Don't give up.

26Dec/12Off

Butt Out of Chair: Join the Healthy Writers Club by Beth Barany

Beth BaranyBeth Barany is a fantasy novelist who writes books to empower girls and women, and a creativity coach for writers, helping writers get their books done and in the hands of their readers. For more about Beth, her writing and her services, check out her site here: http://www.BethBarany.com. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

I love the Healthy Writers Club. I'd been searching for a way to be a part of a community of writers who also like to work out. But, like a lot of creative people, I didn't want to be locked into some kind of outside structure that didn't match my busy schedule. So when I stumbled upon a blogger's post about the Healthy Writers Club, I jumped on it.

I followed the link to Shallee McArthur's page: http://www.shalleemcarthur.com/p/the-healthy-writers-club.html and added my blog to the list. On this page, Shallee explains how to partcipate: just do it. It's easy, fun, and free.

Healthy Writers Club

Shallee suggests that we post once a week, on Fridays, or any day we want, and write about our workouts and how it relates to writing. I use writing about my weekly workouts as a way to stay accountable. A list of my Healthy Writers Club posts are on my Writer's Fun Zone blog here: http://www.writersfunzone.com/blog/?s=healthy+writers+club.

To join just 1. Be Active; 2. Write about it weekly; 3. Sign up on Shallee's site: http://www.shalleemcarthur.com/p/the-healthy-writers-club.htm.

Welcome to the Healthy Writers Club!

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