Starting From Scratch: The Clown Challenge

NEWSFLASH: This weekend I will be at Geek Girl Con in Seattle. My publisher (Hydra House) has a booth (#309) and I will be presenting “Imaginary Worlds for Kids” in Rm LL3 Sat at 11 AM & Sun at 3 PM and doing a signing Sat at noon wherever signings are. Probably by the book tables. ~     ~     ~ Up for the Clown Challenge? Where do I Start?   I love a good challenge. Especially a writing challenge. I’ve completed NaNoWriMo twice, dozens of “10 day challenges” (writing a short screenplay, short story, or poem each day for 10 days), or doing themed challenges. It’s how I wrote my first (and only) literary zombie story. I saw a challenge. I saw a way to push myself in a new and unexpected direction. While I was...

Upcoming Deadlines for Deadline Centric Writers

I’m a fan of deadlines. If you have to set your own hours and organize your own day, you might be a fan of deadlines as well. Lately, I’ve been using calls for themed anthologies as deadlines for producing short stories. I don’t enter a lot of contests (other than my publisher sending my published books out). I prefer to put my energies toward submitting for publication. But this Writer’s Digest contest seems like a no-brainer to me: Writer’s Digest “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest First off, I love that they call it “lucky agent” instead of lucky writer. Second off, it’s completely free to enter. And easy. This is a recurring online contest with agent judges. The details of each contest are essentially the...

Writing Life: The Short Shot

I had written short stories for classes or if someone invited me to write one, but I had never thought about writing for the short story market until about a year-and-a-half ago when I was asked to teach a dystopian fiction class to teenagers focused around producing a short story. I always write with my students and use the development of my own story to demonstrate the creative process. I ended up creating something in my first dystopian fiction class that I really liked and thought there might be a market for the story. I started reading more short stories on line, attending short fiction readings, and picked up several speculative fiction anthologies, and you know what? There’s some really interesting work out there. Many people, including myself, romanticize...

Weekend Workout: End-of-Year Short Story Challenge! (or 50 First Lines Redux!)

I’ve been jumping up and down in my mind (I do that) to use some material from the 50 first lines exercise I started months ago. I used this exercise, another of my favourites, for a writing contest back in February and the results were terrific. The whole 50 First Lines exercise is a blast and it works. I’ve proven to myself over and over again that it works, and now I have an excuse to use some of my results. There’s an open call for a short story anthology I’m interested in submitting to and the deadline is Dec 31st, so it’s perfect timing. If you’d like to join me and submit to this anthology (or to any other anthology or magazine or just want to finish a short story by the end of the year), you can play along. You can play along regardless of anything, but...

Training for the CyberSpace Open: A script per day!

When I started my 10 day screenwriting challenge the other day, little did I realize how this might get me in shape for one of the most interesting screenwriting contests I’ve seen:  Screenwriting Expo’s CyberSpace Open. The contest is set up in round-robin (elimination) style. Each round the participants must write a five page short script around a specific premise. You can write from anywhere. To win you need to survive 3 rounds, each with a tighter deadline than the last. In the final round, the top 10 writers have only 90 minutes to write a 5-page script. Whew! I’ve been writing a short script per day for the past 7 days. I missed one day, so I only have 6 scripts. I was hoping to write 2 today, but I don’t think that’s going to...

Pick a Challenge, any Challenge

August is a fine time to work your creative mojo. Everyone’s doing it! And they’re doing it in the form of challenges and experiments. Below are a few that I recommend. Please let me know if there are any more out there in the coming month/s and I’ll add them to the list. The 3:15 Experiment Anyone who follows my blog with any regularity knows that I participate in the annual 3:15 Experiment every year. Basically, a shifting menagerie of poets (and prose writers, actually) wakes up at 3:15 AM EACH morning during the month of August and writes. Our goal is to write while riding a 1/2 dream state. Magic happens. We have a Facebook Group now. Join us. August Postcard Poetry Fest Started by Paul Nelson and Lana Ayers, the Postcard Poetry Fest...