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

20Feb/13Off

Inteview With Contest Winner Ashlea Naeth

Ashlea N.

Ashlea N.

Sixteen years in Prince George, British Columbia, can do a lot to a person. Maybe that's why I am the way I am- addicted to Tim Hortons, writing, and the internet. I've lived her my entire life, and endured the constant smothering of our pollutant thick air, but I love it here, it was where I was born.

Ashlea Naeth won best story in Elizabeth Woods' writing contest at the Prince George Public Library in the fall of 2012, for her story "True Perception".

And here today, at sixteen years old, and in grade eleven, I still live here. Luckily for myself, I've never been much of a town person, as there's nothing to do in the down town of P.G. That would be why I love the outdoors. During my summer I enjoy quading through mud holes, camping, and hanging out with friends in the hot summer sun. When the cold, winter flakes start to fall, though, you're more likely to find me with my nose in a book or my fingers on a key board.

Besides enjoying my hobbies, I also enjoy my friends and family. I am blessed with many cousins, an amazing brother, and two wonderful parents. Not to mention my two dogs, three guinea pigs, and a cat as well. My family and friends are what get me through the day, and have helped me so much with my writing. I can't thank them enough.

Interview With Ashlea Naeth

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

My top three creative achievements would have to be receiving third place in the school district writing competition, finishing my first short story, and being published on here.

How has science fiction affected your life?

Science fiction has affected by life by opening my mind to another dimension- which I have allowed to slip into my writing and my own hobbies.

When did you first discover a love of writing?

I'd have to say I first discovered my love for writing in the fifth grade, where I attempted to write my first novel. Sadly, it flopped.

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

Out of all the science fiction books I've read, I'd have to say that my favorite one, hands down, would be Across The Universe by Beth Revis

How did you first discover the Okal Rel Universe?

I first discovered the Okal Rel Universe when the lovely, Mrs. Elizabeth Woods, mentioned it in a group I participate in called the "Writer's Circle".

6. What life experiences have contributed to your creative endeavours?

Many experiences in my life have contributed to my creative endeavors . However, it's not the experiences themselves that sneak their way into my writing, but how they made me feel.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

My greatest source of inspiration is music. I'll be listening to a song and a certain lyric will spark something in me that makes me feel the need to write based off of it.

What advice would you give to fellow/aspiring writers?

My advice to fellow/aspiring writers is to get out there. By this I mean don't be afraid to share your work. The more advice you receive, the better your writing turns out in the long run.

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.

22Jan/13Off

A Post Attention Span World By Baron Dave Romm

Ethics in SF: A series of interviews, articles and debates on the Reality Skimming blog, hosted by Lynda Williams, author of the Okal Rel Saga.

Baron Dave Romm

Baron Dave Romm

The Baron Romm: In His Own Words

I was born, which seemed like a good idea at the time. Since then I have been a fanzine publisher, masseur, radio producer, html instructor, futurist and ad hoc dilettante.

Shockwave Radio Theater was a weekly science fiction humor program which aired for nearly thirty years in Minneapolis, MN. We did original humor, played odd music, and anything else we wanted to do. I wrote/produced/acted in perhaps two dozen live stage shows. I interviewed quite a few interesting people from Dr. Demento to Gov. Jesse Ventura.

Indeed, when Ventura got to be governor, I declared that politics was a subset of science fiction humor. A degree of political awareness and futurism had always been present in my writing, and I leaped into it whole hog. I covered the 2008 Republican National Convention for KFAI-FM, and continue to talk to politicians and write political essays. And be snarky on various social media.

I live with Carole Vandal in Minneapolis on the site of the old Nicollet Baseball Park. I'm on the Condo Association and police Crime and Drug Committee. My latest project has been to document the street repairs for Nicollet Avenue. They're repaving the road for the first time since they slapped asphalt over the streetcar tracks in 1954.

I love living in the future.

A Post-Attention Span World

By Baron Dave Romm

Right now, we live in a post-attention span world. We have to multitask, and pay attention to a lot of things at the same time. If we're not liveblogging an event (observing, typing and answering feedback) we're talking on the phone while driving (or texting), holding IM conversations with many people at once, or simply have multiple windows open to flip back and forth at will.

It's not necessary, or even desirable, to remember what happened a hundred years ago. Or yesterday. We have politicians who deny ever saying things we have on video tape, and people believe them. In the latest presidential campaign, a Republican pollster proudly claimed, "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers". Facts and memory didn't matter to their campaign. We have virtually everything anyone has ever written on the internet and easy ways to check on facts but most people just type the first damn thing that comes to mind. The previous Facebook comment by an obvious troll is more likely to affect your viewpoint than a reasoned book by an expert.

Finding out the truth, or at least researching the interplay of ideas, is easier today than at any time in human history, and we don't do it. Maybe people don't have the 15 seconds it would take to verify or deny a fact. Maybe people just don't want to do the typing with their fingers. Or maybe they just want to get back to Angry Birds.

When Alvin Toffler wrote "Future Shock" in 1970, he posited that people couldn't keep up with change. He was right. Now, forty years on, that change and many others have come and been superseded. We have all the information in the world, and not enough time. If no more books were written or music recorded or movies released, you couldn't, in one lifetime, experience all there is out there right now. We have to manage the moment. We have to manage flow. I called this "present shock" for "You're Riding The Shockwave", a play for Shockwave Radio Theater, in 1995, so I've been watching this phenomena grow even before the web became the backbone of existence for many.

Since the dawn of civilization, information access and flow has always been increasing, and always met with doubters.

When writing was invented, some people were against it. They were worried that direct personal communication would be compromised. They were worried that keeping track of debts and time spent on a project would limit how much one could talk someone into bending the rules. They were worried that there was was no way to tell the difference between words written by an authority (such as G_d) and some random schlub with a quill.

And they were right. All this happened.

When the printing press was invented, some people were against it. They were worried that the masses would read scripture without benefit of clergy. They were worried that people wouldn't use the memory palace technique and be able to keep a large amount of information in their head. They were worried that the democratization of knowledge would reduce the power of guilds and clan-based societies.

And they were right. All this happened.

When television was invented, some people were against it. They were worried that we would have a short attention span. They were worried that parents would use the boob tube as an electronic baby sitter. They were worried that the pablum would outweigh intellectual programs and people would just waste time. They were worried that we would have a short attention span.

And they were right. All this happened.

When the internet was invented and made easy to use by the World Wide Web., some people were against it. They were worried that the wrong people would have access to information. They were worried how easy it was to pretend to be someone you're not. They were worried about theft and fraud on a massive scale. They were worried that the speed of communication would make people stay at their computers watching the world go by.

And they were right. All this happened.

When devices using the internet got small and numerous enough and social networks connected hundreds of millions of people at once, some people were against it. They were worried that no one would have any time when they were out of touch. They were worried that conversation would take place 140 characters at a time. They were worried that people would play games on their phones while in social settings. They were worried that people would prefer to be online than meet real people.

And they were right. All this happened.

Of course, all these developments came with major advantages, and few would say that a pre-literate culture is better than our instant-gratification culture. But some would.

Change always happens, even to the amount and accessibility of knowledge. But what is different today is the rate of change.

As with all the increases in breadth and speed of knowledge available, we will adapt. Privacy may not go away, but we'll have to live with the embarrassing thing we did as a child, or the asinine post we made yesterday. Academic research may not be replaced by Twitter feeds, but we'll divide our thoughts into smaller and more easily 'liked' memes. Fact checking may not be completely replaced with bald-faced lies, but people will still vote with their sphincters and not with their heads.

Idiots predate and transcend social media. But in an online world where every post, status update or comment carries the same weight, the idiots rule. We sort of figured out how to adapt to a world with writing, then to a world with the printing press, they a world with television and, barely, a world with the internet. We really haven't come to terms with how social media should be integrated into how we run our lives.

As individuals, we haven't caught up with how technology has changed our relationship to other people. I have no doubt we will, but we're not there yet.

I'll leave you with a few observations on the same subject from wise men several Present Shocks ago:

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men." -- Martin Luther King Jr.

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer. " -- Albert Einstein

Your Turn: Comment with your own reaction to the questions.

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.

   
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