One of Those Life-Changing Phone Calls for Writers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI learned on Thursday that I won a 2013 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Writers, administered by the Loft Literary Center. Five $25,000 awards are presented annually to accomplished Minnesota writers and spoken word artists. I couldn’t be more thrilled – the general validation is wonderful (“accomplished writers”); but to be more specific,  my fellowship submission included the opening pages of my unpublished novel Albert Park: a Memoir in Lies. It’s a book I very much believe in and I’m very happy that it impressed the judge, who read all the submitted works, all of which were anonymized. So the decision was based only on my writing, my idea about this crazy pathological liar (unreliable narrator). I was not judged based on who I am or am not . The wonderful value of blind reading is great!

The Zorro lunchbox pictured at left figures into Albert’s ‘story’. As I was writing the book, I began to collect some of the objects that appear in the book. They have a special power in the process of making the story. I’ve never done this before -gathered little objects like this- though I’d heard other writers do this. Frankly I thought this sounded kind of demented. But somehow Albert demanded it. He’s kind of demented. I hope one day that the book sees publication so others can hear Albert’s story.

I’m looking forward to my fellowship year.


Get Your Rowdy Reading here – Includes Past 3MF Entry


Playing House

Absolutely fantastic. I didn’t know where it was going at first, but came together during a second read. Hysterical.
– Meredith Greenwood

She threw herself onto the rosewood settee, the one where Janey had laid her lime-green lollypop. The lollypop stuck to Millicent’s best–and–only dress, its gloppy syrup instantly gluing her to the settee. She was stuck, and that was the last thing she wanted Reginald to know.

– – – More here.



There Once Was A….

….limerick winner named Susan! My limerick won a contest at lulu, the publisher of the anthology Let Them Eat Crepes  (the book Melissa and I edited and published in late 2010).

Check out the lulu blog to read my winning entry, which earned me a Barnes & Noble Nook and a $100 credit for the lulu website.

In case you aren’t familiar with the limerick, it’s a poem that follows a strict form:

  • AABBA rhyme scheme
  • five lines
  • a galloping meter (typically)
  • humorous, and sometimes obscene subject matter (lulu asked us to keep our poems family-friendly)
Despite the very clear contest requirements, there were many submissions that didn’t even come close to specifications. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am a girl who follows directions, so I found it surprising. It’s not surprising that my day job involves following directions to the T.
We were allowed to enter more than once, and I became obsessed, even though my first entry was declared the winner.
I am glad there was a limited time that entries could be submitted. My obsession resulted in a collection of five limerick entries, the last of which made a nod to my obsession.
I learned a lot by self-publishing a book on lulu. And everything I learned has helped me with my traditionally published mystery, Washed Up (available everywhere).  Not sure yet which is harder, writing a book, or promoting it. Only time will tell…..

Will Your Story Win? Write One and Find Out!

Updated version of a post from back spring because it’s BACK. Also – good news re one of my earlier round entries is found here. To reiterate:

This is one of those rare contests where you can’t lose, even if you lose.

Round 9 of Three-Minute Fiction (NPR’s  flash fiction contest) has begun. Contestants submit an original work of fiction (600 words or less) that revolves around a president, fictional or real. Entry deadline is 11:59 ET on September 23.

Entrants wind up with a new original story, and it’s always fun to read the commentary as entries get posted on NPR. There’s even a Facebook page where participants and spectators can join in the fun.

I’ve found that it’s best not to try and ‘guess’ what the judge will like and write to the judge. Initial screening is typically done by writing students and/or faculty at various institutions (such as the Iowa Writers Workshop) and it sounds like they use a rigorous, careful method for considering each entry. New this round is use of Submittable for entering stories, which prevents some of the nasty formatting problems that cropped up with the text-based NPR form, as well as hopefully helping to manage the crush of applicants which tended to slow things down for the last minute submitters. Still, it’s best not to wait until the last minute.

My advice? Write the best story you can. None of my entries has been selected as a favorite by the judges, nor have I won NPR’s contest, but I’ve had successes placing stories elsewhere, after the contest ends. My round 6 entry got published here, and I earned $50 for it, plus read it at a local cafe, so that ain’t bad. And, as I noted above, another (a slightly expanded version of my round 5 entry) just got picked up by a prominent national magazine and I’ll be paid for that one, too and excited to have it published soon.

More info here: Three-Minute Fiction : NPR.