Tag Archives: writing contest

Writing Wins and Woes: Do you have an unpublished novel?

Attention writers!!! Do you have an unpublished novel that you haven’t moved forward with? Don’t let it gather dust. Here’s a great opportunity to send it in for a chance to be published, plus earn $5000. I wanted to promote this last week on my blog, but I forgot. Shame on me. But you still have until Friday to send it in. Here is the link for Black Balloon Publishing.



Also, another of my husband’s paintings for your perusal.

Writing Wins and Woes: A Scathing rejection

Hershey and vacation 2014 047

I wanted to transport myself back to this scene before entering this post. This is Baltimore’s peaceful inner Harbor. I was feeling relaxed that day. Today, I am unsettled and unsatisfied. Why? Because my writing life isn’t taking off in leaps and bounds, I’m not maturing fast enough as a writer, and worst of all, I’m disappointed in me.

I received a scathing rejection. Okay, I’m being overly dramatic. It wasn’t as horrible as I portray. It was just full of little criticisms and what is worse, I believe I deserved 90% of them. My story was too simplistic, not enough plot. It could have been more interesting. Am I becoming a lazy writer or is my mind closing to new and more ingenious ideas?

So, what’s the purpose of a rejection:
1. To let us know we need to improve something in our writing.
2. To encourage us to try again.
3. To write something different.
4. to remind us that we’re not perfect, and never will be.
There’s probably a bunch more, but that’s starters.

Also, I’m a little down about my last post. I entertained the idea of a new Paint Splashes Contest. I called for comments, and I got one comment. I must admit. I’m a bit discouraged about my lack of views lately to my blog. Maybe, it’s boring, too. I’m certainly not encouraging readers. So, how can I improve my blog? What do you think? And again, I ask, is there any interest in a new Paint Splashes Contest. I can continue blogging for my own benefit, and I like to do that, but I started this blog to encourage would be writers to keep trying. If I’m not accomplishing that, I feel a little sad. So, comment, people. If you have read this blog, let me know that I’m not just typing into dead air.

Writing Wins and Woes: New Contest?

Hershey and vacation 2014 020
What do you spy? I spy a possible new contest. Did you ever play I spy with my little eye when you were a kid? Well, I’m spying something new right now. I feel so bad that the Photo Flare Contest is over (for now) and that Spellbound has gone the way of so many other good ezines that I am thinking of re-starting the Paint Splashes Contest one more time. It will be a new painting, of course, but the prizes will be the same $10 for winner, $5 for runner-up. Only the pleasure of choosing will be all mine this time. It will run for three months, from September something to November something. After which, I’ll choose two lucky stories. It will be flash again as well. What do you think? Should I give it another go? Please comment. Unless I know people will actually enter and send me some stories, it won’t be worth it. I’m doing it this way. If I get at least ten comments from this post, saying you are interested in entering the contest, it will be a go. That doesn’t commit you to entering. I just want to see interest as of now. Also, as a new feature, I may let you choose between three paintings you can write about, instead of just one. Inspiration comes in many forms. Okay? How about it? New writing contest anyone?

Runner Up Story of the Paint Splashes Contest

Runner Up Story of the Paint Splashes Contest

Congratulations to Lisa Millhouse, who is the runner-up for the Paint Splashes Contest.
Lisa Millhouse has always liked to write. She composes short essays on biblical scripture for her own reflection and keeps a journal. She works as a mental health counselor and attends the doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at Immaculata University.

Here is her story. I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did.

The Vigil

By Lisa Millhouse

The little girl was dying. She couldn’t eat, couldn’t talk, and couldn’t even sit up anymore. Her mother, father, and brother moved around the house with the vacant stare of an absinthe drinker. Throughout the day, the sound of mundane daily life could not penetrate the cold thick silence that hung in the house like fog. The atmosphere was so drugged, so dark, and so muted that it seemed like the house itself was being held motionless by an enormous invisible hand.

Outside the house, everyone was preparing for Christmas Day the way they always do: cooking, shopping, and having long-missed conversations with friends and family. They did most of these things on the internet. The internet helped with all kinds of things related to Christmas, like party invitations, gifts, and recipes.

The first place they saw the story was on Twitter. Then they saw it on Facebook, blogs, and news websites because the story jumped around the internet like a hyperkinetic frog. There was no way to not know out about the dying girl. They found out that she was six years old, that there’s nothing the doctors can do, and that she hasn’t got long. They found out that she’s really ok with dying, at least that’s what the story said. But there’s one thing she wants, one thing that will make her death easier to take for everyone: to hear people sing Christmas carols.

A few days later, right before Christmas, a mob formed outside the dark, motionless house. Women in red cloaks, men in dark coats, holding candles and singing carols with mournful faces. In between carols, they talked in whispers about how tragic and terrible it was to die so young and how difficult it must be for the family. There was only a little almost imperceptible recognition of mutual relief that it wasn’t happening to them.

After the vigil they all went home and when they turned on their computers they saw a picture of the little girl smiling. Satisfied, they clicked on links for cookie recipes and predictions for the football game. Other people who were not a part of the vigil saw the pictures, too, and felt good for having read about it on the internet.

After the little girl died, someone very old heard about the vigil. He remembered a time when neighbors sang soft lullabies into the ears of a dying child that no one else could hear. Sometimes, they tried to talk to the family but their voice got swallowed up by the thick cotton silence. Eventually when death was near they gave up trying to make anyone feel better, including themselves. They laid down and tied themselves to the train tracks right beside the mom, dad, and brother and waited for the train to finally come.

He remembered all of this and thought that maybe that this vigil was for more than the little girl, because so much more has been lost.


I really enjoyed hosting this contest. It was fun to read how others interpreted my husband’s painting. Next week I will feature my own story revolving around this particular painting. I hope you all join me. It’s just for fun. On the 25th I will post my stats for the whole month of April since I have postponed doing this for the contest winners. By then, I hope to be able to post better news than I have been getting so far this month in my writing. Thank you for reading my blog and for those who participated in Paint Splashes Contest. I may repeat it again in the future. Who knows?

Contest Winner: Paint Splashes Flash Fiction Contest

Contest Winner: Paint Splashes Flash Fiction Contest

Congratulations to Melinda Moore, the winner of the Paint Splashes Contest. Melinda Moore reads and writes in The Land of Enchantment. She has a handful of short stories published along with a novella: A Sunset Finish. Please stop by her blog and read the winning stories in her Photo Flare writing contest at enchantedspark.com.

Here is her winning, enchanted fairy story:



Clarise juggled indigo butterflies with wafts of air originating from her fingertips. Birds twittered a song in time with the butterfly circles, and Clarise pranced to it above the ground.

“Clarise!” Mother Superior’s sharp voice cut through the delight. Clarise fell to the ground, and the butterflies flew to the shelter of her golden hair.

“Honestly,” continued Mother Superior. “You should be preparing yourself for the Fairy Light Parade.”

“Is it time?” Clarise scrambled to stand up. Unable to do her chores correctly in her anticipation, she’d given up and hid in the garden where she worshiped God in her way—the joyous way.

Mother Superior sighed and softened her eyes. She was very young to be in charge of the nunnery—young and beautiful. She said, “I thought you should know, your parents will be taking you home at the end of the parade.”

Clarise’s eyes bulged. For eighteen years she’d thought she was the bastard child of the unmarried court wizard. “Parents? But I’m an orphan.”

Mother Superior stepped to her and placed a hand on her shoulder. “It’s not the custom to tell one such as you ahead of time, but you’re so filled with the grace of God, I—I wanted to at least say goodbye. I know I’ve been overly strict, but I think you would’ve made a wonderful nun.”

“Would’ve? What are you talking about? I plan to enter the sisterhood as soon as you allow me.”

One tear rolled off Mother Superior’s cheek. “Your parents are fairies. They’ll arrive at the parade to take you home.”

Clarise stepped out of her grip. “No. That can’t be right.”

“But it is.” The next words she spoke slowly as if to convey something important. “You are not the first fairy child to be brought up by this convent. Now go. Prepare yourself and go to the altar fire when the bell tolls.”


Clarise stood in the sanctuary in a red habit like the other nuns, wishing they wore color more often. Maybe her love of color and flavor and music had been a sign all along that she was a fairy. She narrowed her eyes at the sisters. Had they all known she was a fairy?

She tried to steady her voice as they sang the hymn of preparation. They were to shine the light of God for the fairies to cleanse themselves in, giving them God’s grace. Clarise shuddered. She didn’t want to live amongst those who only sought Him once a year. She calmed her nerves by floating above the ground and to the altar where God’s fire burned on the fairy candle. Everyone stopped singing.

She hovered above the altar, thinking she might see God’s face in the flame or hear his voice. Nothing. Lighting the first candle was for Mother Superior to do, but what did she care of rules anymore—she was a fairy. Clarise pulled the red fairy candle out of her habit and placed the wick in God’s fire. With one spark it lit. She floated above the ground singing the fairy welcome song as she headed down the aisle and out the door. One by one, the sisters followed.

Outside, lamps shone down on empty streets. Light glowed in the windows of the buildings, but Clarise didn’t see any people looking out—the night was too dangerous for those who didn’t carry the light of God.

Above, the yellow crescent moon gave color to the nearby clouds as if they too glowed with the light of God. In an act of defiance against her blood heritage, she dropped to the ground and walked like all the other nuns. Mother Superior caught up to her, but she hardly noticed as she pondered what her parents might be like as well as life in the fairy realm. She might have all the color and flavor and music she could ever imagine, but God would be absent.

She stopped walking and said to Mother Superior, “I can’t go there. I belong here.”

Mother Superior stopped, but the rest of the nuns moved on with their lit candles held close. “Perhaps God intends you to be His light in their realm.”

“Have other fairies gone back and kept his fire burning?”

Mother Superior shook her head. “But you’re strong in his love. You can succeed where they fail.”

Mother Superior’s fire burned brighter, and Clarise saw a silhouette dancing in the flame. She looked to her own candle and saw the same.

“They’re coming,” she whispered. She wanted to snuff her candle out. She could do that. She could blow a gale through the street and blow every flame out all the way to God’s Fire. And then she could remain another year at least.

The figures grew bigger. She’d have to blow it out soon. Mother Superior’s words passed through her mind: maybe she could be their savior in the fairy realm. She held her breath.

Wings unfurled out of the candle flame, and a fairy emerged nude and more beautiful than any human she’d ever beheld. Next to her, a male fairy flew out of Mother Superior’s candle—perfect like she imagined an angel to be. Soon the sky filled with tinkling laughter and ethereal voices. Clarise stood and gawked and filled with dread at living in the realm where fairy glory would overwhelm the grace of God. She was not strong enough. She could not carry

His grace to His lost people. But maybe—she had a thought.

Allowing her fairy impetuousness to take over, she waved her hands high and pushed a gale down the street, snuffing out every candle and God’s fire in the sanctuary. Over the gasps of horror from the nuns, she heard musical laughter roll out of Mother Superior. “Well done.” Something ripped Mother Superior’s habit, and wings opened up behind her back. She flew up and called to the dumbstruck fairies, “Welcome to your redemption.”


Writing Wins and Woes: A Writer’s Blog


Okay, the wait is over! Paint Splashes Contest has concluded and the winners are: Melinda Moore as the winning entrant and Lisa Millhouse as runner-up. Congratulations to both of you! Their stories will be featured here on my blog, April 4th and April 11th. So excited to share them with the world.

I also thought I’d like to share another of my husband’s paintings. Hope you like it. As I don’t ask people to do what I can’t do myself, I’ve written a story also for the Paint Splashes painting. I can’t win. That would be unethical, but I can still share my story. I will share that story on April 18th. It’s just for fun.
Now for the unfun part. I received two rejections this week: one from Knowonder! where I can’t seem to sink that magical fifth story that will start me on my own short story collection. Sigh! Also, I got a rejection from UFO, another sci-fi humor anthology. I submitted to two places this week, UFO and Guardian Angel Kids. My writing tallies have really slumped lately. I had a disappointment with a job last week and been working lots of hours on my substitute cleaning job this week. If I had more consistency with my hours, I could plan my writing better, but I don’t so, I have to work with what I got.
Thought for the Day: Try your hand at something new when writing. Be an editor, or proof read somebody else’s writing. I really enjoyed doing the Paint Splashes Contest. I didn’t get as many entrants as I would have liked but what I did get was quality. Thanks to all who participated. Kudos to everyone! You are all winners because you write!

Writing Wins and Woes: A Writer’s Blog

Writing Wins and Woes: A Writer's Blog

Now, I’m going to admit my geeky side. I am a Star Trek fan. No, I’m not a trekkie. I don’t know all the lingo, and i don’t go to conventions or collect the stuff, but ever since the original Star Trek with Captain Kirk, I’ve been in love with all the Star Trek shows. Presently, I am watching Star Trek Voyager, which at this point in the show, Season 4, I think, has an actual Borg on board, who has been disconnected from the Collective. After saying that, I am profoundly disgusted with myself. As a writer, I keep thinking the Borg phrase, “Resistance is Futile.” I often feel like eventually, I’ll have to give up my dreams of becoming a writer because I am doomed to failure. Maybe that’s because I had 4, yes count them, 4 rejections this week, and no acceptances.

They are, drum roll please, from Flash fiction online, Daily Science fiction, Asimov’s Science Fiction and the String of 10 Flash fiction contest. I better have a better week next week.

Also, I need to plug Paint Splashes again. I have hardly any entries and only two weeks to go. Please enter. The rules are here:

I submitted to two places this week: The Photo Flare Contest Melinda Moore has, and Metrofiction.

Thought for the Day: Resistance may seem futile at times, but eventually, you will move forward if you keep trying. To quote another favorite of mine, “Just Keep Swimming!”

Paint Splashes Flash Contest

Paint Splashes Flash Contest

For today, I thought I’d reblog info on my contest, Paint Splashes. A month has gone by and I’ve not gotten many submissions, so I’m replugging.

The contest is based on my husband’s painting, as pictured. Please make your story pertinent to the painting. It is a flash contest. That means all submissions should be 1000 words or less, please.

Winner will receive $10 paypal money. Runner-up will receive $5 paypal money, so please have a paypal account. It is free to set up the paypal account. Both winner and runner-up stories will be posted on my blog around the beginning of April. Contest ends March 25th, 2014. Winners will be notified by April 1st.

Please mark your subject line with Submission and story title, at least. Please put all submissions in the body of the email, no attachments, please. I’m wary of viruses.

I will send out a confirmation email that I have received your submission within a few days of submitting at the very least. Please send submissions to: paintsplashes@comcast.net. If you do not receive a confirmation email, I did not get your submission. Resend, please.

I will notify all entrants whether they win or not, by April 1st. I hope I haven’t missed any necessary information. Any genre is accepted. Format is not important. Just please keep grammar errors to a minimum. I reserve the right to edit those, but any changes will be approved by the author. You have all rights to your story.Please keep submissions PG. My daughter and husband will choose the two finalists and then, I will decide the winner. Thank you in advance for entering. Now, please, send your entries soon.

Writing Wins and Woes: Character sketch of my hero

Writing Wins and Woes: Character sketch of my hero

Okay, This doesn’t look like anybody’s idea of a hero, but I thought a lot about this blog and my belief is that when writing about a hero they should be somewhat flawed. This person(if your hero is a person) might be ordinary, but everybody has character inadequacies, and if my character doesn’t have a flaw, the hero isn’t remotely interesting.

So, I often write about a girl/woman who is lost, or facing some difficulty and is seeking to do something to overcome that crisis in her life. To me heros come in every day packages. Of course, in some of my stories, the hero doesn’t even win, or the hero turns out to be a villain. When the hero does win in my story, she often finds she wants to go back to where she started because what she found is not as satisfying as home. Sounds a lot like the Wizard of Oz, right?

I appreciate being able to share my opinions in this blog hop. This is one of the most interesting ones, yet. I’m sure there will be a lot of varieties in answers. Say on!

While I am here, please allow me a chance to plug my contest, Paint Splashes. The picture I included in this blog is my husband’s painting, and Paint Splashes is a flash fiction contest I have on my blog based on another of my husband’s great paintings. The contest goes to March 25th. More details are on my blog, here.


Thought for the Day: Heros are complex. When writing about them, don’t follow the stereotypes, try something different.

Writing Wins and Woes: A Writer’s Blog

Writing Wins and Woes: A Writer's Blog

A writer’s life consists of mountain tops and valleys. Sometimes you have a mountain top experience and the same day you have a valley. I often don’t want to look into my inbox. It’s one of those things where I am anticipating and dreading at the same time.

Since I forgot to list my submissions and acceptances/rejections last week and this is the last day of the month I thought I’d do a stat day. So here it is:

Shari’s Stats: January

Submissions: 12
Acceptances: 3
Outright Rejections: 7
Rejections asking for revisions: 2

Although that rejection number is high, I am encouraged because I had three acceptances this month and two were for a print magazine, Guide, that netted me $170. Yay!

Update: I mentioned previously about Knowonder! and my plans to start working toward a book of short stories. Out of the five stories I submitted one was accepted, 2 were rejected outright and two asked me to work on them and resubmit. Since I already have three published stories with knowonder, and now an accepted fourth, I am well on my way to the five stories required to start working toward my collection of short stories. Keep your fingers crossed and I’ll keep you updated.

My other rejections were from Daily Science Fiction. (I keep trying.) Spellbound (again I keep trying) Page and Spine and T. Gene Davis speculative Blog.

As usual, I want to encourage writers out there to submit to my flash fiction contest, Paint Splashes. The winner will receive $10 paypal money and runner-up will receive $5 paypal. See the link for more details.


Thought for the Day: Since my blog earlier this week was on writing resources. I thought I’d plug one of my favorite. The Submission Grinder. If you click on recently added, you’ll find new markets all the time to submit to. You can also keep track of your own submissions, all for the low, low cost of zero dollars. Thank you, Submission Grinder, for all you do. The link is on my sidebar for that.