Tuesday, June 10, 2014

All Right Now--Register for the All Write Now! Summer Conference . . . AND Sign Up To Win A Book Contract!

In this post, I want to share the details on the very first All Write Now! one-day conference  that Southeast Missouri Writers' Guild and Heartland Writers Guild are co-sponsoring this July 19, 2014 at the Cape Girardeau Library, 711 N. Clark St., Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

We are excited to offer a full day of panel discussions with a group of Missouri small press publishers, workshops, pitch sessions, one-page, written-critiques by several publishers, lunch and a keynote address by Dr. Robert Hamblin, Professor Emeritus, Southeast Missouri State University, lots of networking and camaraderie!

AND . . . (drumroll, please!) A BOOK CONTRACT TO ONE LUCKY ATTENDEE!

That's right!

Lou Turner of High Hill Press has offered a standard book contract to one lucky attendee. The one requirement is that each participant entering their name into the drawing must have either a complete--or an almost-complete novel to be entered into the drawing--oh, and you have to be registered for the conference and be present to win. That's it.

Vist the All Write Now! Facebook page to keep up with the latest news and information, or just to ask a question. This is an open FB forum, so you can post a question, add a comment, or make a suggestion. The All Write Now! conference information and registration form is available here for you to print out and send in.  Join us!

We'd also love to have you join our Friends of SEMO Writers' Guild FB page as well. Check us out here.

Without further ado, here is the All Write Now! registration information and registration form. Register early. Spacing is limited. If you would like to receive the All Write Now! conference information and registration form sent to you directly, please email me at southeastmopres at gmail dot com.

Feel free to share with your writing friends!

Until next time. . . .

All Write Now! Conference Information & Registration

A Delightful Yet Quirky Tale of First Love, Family, Friendships--and, of course, Curses!

Recently, I had the pleasure to review Margo Dill's newest YA novel, Caught Between Two Curses, published by Rocking Horse Publishing. I'm posting my review here to share with everyone who loves YA. However, for any mom, dad, teacher, aunt, uncle, or anyone who has--or is--experiencing life with a  teenager, Caught Between Two Curses will help see all the nuances as to what is important to teenagers, how they process and manage difficult situations on their own, and how they really struggle with doing what is right and making good decisions.


Caught Between Two Curses
Margo Dill
Rocking Horse Publishing
ISBN-10: : 0991069560          
ISBN-13: 978-0991969569
Paperback: 248 pp.; $11.95
Review by Donna J. Essner

Caught Between Two Curses by Margo Dill, is a delightful yet quirky paranormal tale of a typical seventeen-year-old high school student, Julie Nigelson. Typical, inasmuch as she has a boyfriend and like many teenagers, is faced with a dilemma—to have or not to have sex.

But when a mélange of twists and turns propel Julie into facing an unexpected family crisis that is connected somehow to the famous “Billy Goat Curse” that prevents the Cubs from winning and is tied to her uncle’s mysterious illness, perhaps even her parents’ death, Julie is hurled into a world of confusion, questions, and decisions that affect her and all those she loves. Not only that, but Julie learns that her estranged grandmother she didn’t even know existed, is tied to it all. All the while, Julie wrangles with her boyfriend’s constant pressure to have sex, struggles with her change of heart surrounding her best friend, Matt, and fights to decipher how to rid her family—and the Cubs—of the curse. Before it’s too late.

In Caught Between Two Curses, readers are taken on a fast- and well-paced journey in the life of a contemporary teen who faces many of the same struggles with which all teens learn to deal—love vs. sex; the complexities surrounding friendships and relationships, both personal and family; facing “uncomfortable situations” head-on, instead of escaping or burying one’s head; mastering the art of forgiveness; and regardless of one’s own feelings and desires, sacrificing one’s self to protect those they love.

Dill skillfully incorporates all these themes throughout the story. For example, as Julie deals with her newly found-out family curse, she fights her body’s urges to give in, while her brain shouts, “No! No! No!” as her boyfriend insists, “Jules, this is it. Let’s just do it.” And then later, in building a new relationship with her best friend, Matt, she must deal with her feelings from their past and set her sights on beginning a new friendship between them. One she never expected. Additionally, acceptance and forgiveness are dealt with in the relationship with Julie’s grandmother. Not only must Julie accept her grandmother’s eccentric lifestyle, she must learn to forgive her, even though it was she who “brought nothing but pain and sorrow onto [their] family,” and because, as Julie discovered, “She [her grandmother] was the connection to [her] mom.”

Additionally, Dill effortlessly and seamlessly intertwines the legendary Billy Goat Curse that marks the Cubs with a continuous losing streak, with a spell targeted at Julie’s family members, and threatens to wipe them out, one-by-one. Along with chapter-ending cliffhangers and this well-played twist, this reader remained riveted throughout the story.

If there is one thing negative to be said for this story, it would be the many internal questions Julie demands to know as she fights to understand all that is happening in her life—knowing just what to do, what to feel, how to go about making decisions, and how to handle it all. But that is what the teen years entail, isn’t it? Questioning anything and everything they’ve been taught, finding their own way, and figuring out—sometimes all on their own—the who, what, where, when, and why in life. Caught Between Two Curses fulfills these age-old questions. It suffices to say, that even though many of the themes in this novel are directed at teens, any reader—young and old—can relate to these same dilemmas and learn from them.

All in all, Caught Between Two Curses is a delightful read. The characters, their language, and the exceptional paranormal twist interlaced with the legendary curse on the Cubs, gives this book an edge not seen in many others. Added to this, the connection between three generations of family members who struggle together and alone, to mend the past, add to the subtly of the human condition—how to get along. All of these details are spot on. I would highly recommend this captivating story to anyone looking for a refreshing twist on life in the day of a teenager, her friends, and her family. And of course, how to deal with a curse!

Caught Between Two Curses, published by Rocking Horse Publishing can be purchased directly at www.rockinghorsepublishing.com for $11.95. The paperback can also be purchased from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, as well as Margo Dill at http://margodill.com/blog/books. ISBN-10: 0991069560. ISBN-13: 978-0991069569.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Readatouille: GASP! How to Keep Readers Riveted

Take a gander at a great way to make sure your story moves forward! Practival help for our right (write) brains. Thanks Ruth Donnelly!

Readatouille: GASP! How to Keep Readers Riveted

Friday, March 14, 2014

Tips on Posting to Your Blog by Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

As I am a hound for tips on just about any type of writing--including the best way to share writing tips and information on my blog--I wanted to share Karen Cioffi's first of five blog posts on tips on blog posting, which I found helpful. Hope you do, too.

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing: Blogging – The 5 Most Popular Blog Post and Article Formats (Part 1)

Until next time. . . .

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Missouri Writers' Guild Contest Deadline Extended to March 15, 2014!

The deadline for the Chapter and Sponsor contests at the 2014 Missouri Writers' Guild conference has been extended to March 15, 2014. So, get those entries in!

Here is a listing of contests still open for submissions:

Chapter Contests:
The Short Story Contest - sponsored by Southeast Missouri Writers' Guild 
The YA Short Story Contest - sponsored by Southeast Missouri Writers' Guild
Inspirational Essay - sponsored by Saturday Writers
Flash Fiction - sponsored by Saturday Writers
Free Verse Poetry contest - sponsored by St. Louis Writer's Guild

Sponsor Contests:
The Humorous Short Story Contest - sponsored by Jo Anna Dale
The Sci Fi Short Story Contest - sponsored by Walrus Publishing, LLC

Check out the judges and their bios in my previous blog post, or on the MWG conference blog herehttp://missouriwriters guild.org/2014AnnualContest Rules.pdf and www.missouriwritersguild.org  and click on the conference link.

Entries may be submitted by writers who do not plan to attend the Saturday Night Awards Banquet and have the opportunity to hear keynote by Chuck Sambuchino live and in-person--or the conference, for that matter. BUT you'll be missing out on one heck of a lineup of speakers, workshops, pitch sessions, slush pile readings, and the chance to network with lots of great people!

Check out complete contest and submission guidelines, as well as the full lineup of speakers, agents, and workshops here:

Save the date for the conference, too: April 11-13, 2014 at The Ramada Plaza Downtown/at Convention Center, 811 N. 9th Street, Washington Ave. and North, St. Louis, MO. You can make reservations through the Missouri Writers' Guild website in order to get the discounted rate. Don't wait! Make your reservations today!

Until next time. . . .

Keep writing!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Missouri Writers' Guild 2014 Conference Contests--Enter Today!

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock . . . Watch the Date! Watch the Clock!

Time groweth short to send in your entries to the 2014 MWG Conference Contests! The postmark deadline is a little more than a week away—March 1, 2014. But still plenty of time to enter.

This year, there are several MWG Chapter and Sponsor contest options—the Short Story (open topic), the Humorous Short Story, YA Short Story, and the Sci Fi Short Story contests. Additionally, a Flash Fiction contest, as well as an Inspirational Essay and Free Verse Poetry contest are open for submissions. And you don’t have to be present at the conference banquet to win!

All submission guidelines can be found at http://missouriwritersguild.org.

So, don’t delay! Polish your story, essay, or poem and send it in. Why not try more than one? Or all?! The distinguished panel of contest judges are waiting in the wings to read your submissions.


The 2014 MWG Conference Committee now would like to take this opportunity to introduce some of the distinguished panel of judges who have volunteered their time and expertise to judge all contest submissions this year. Kudos and thanks to each and every one of you!

Drum roll, please!

Laura Biagi, an agent at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc (JVLNA) will not only be judging the Short Story contest, she will be attending the 2014 MWG conference to present a workshop, sit on the Slush Pile Panel, and take pitches from writers during the conference. Ms. Biagi graduated from Northwestern University with a B.A. in creative writing and anthropology. Her interests are many. Of particular interest to her are dynamic characters, vivid writing, complex narrative arcs, and psychological twists. Learn more about Biagi and her ‘wish list’ at JVLNA.

Dr. Christie Hodgen has graciously accepted to judge the Humorous Short Story contest this year. She is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Among other notable successes, Dr. Hodgen is the author or Elegies for the Brokenhearted, Hello, I Must Be Going, and A Jewelers Eye for Flaw: Stories. Awards include two Pushcart Prizes and a Guggenheim Fellowship in Fiction. Read more on Dr. Hodgen and her books at W.W. Norton & Company.

Winnie Sullivan, Founder and Executive Director of PenUltimate Press,  an independent non-profit literary press, will judge the Young Adult Short Story contest—the first MWG contest   in this genre. Ms. Sullivan has worked in the field of publishing since 1988, and has held positions in print and broadcast journalism. Since founding PenUltimate Press, she has overseen the publication of several works of nonfiction and poetry. Visit her FB page here.

George Sirois, author of Excelsior, a self-published YA/Science Fiction novel will judge the Sci Fi Short Story contest. His novel was named “Top Pick” by Night Owl Reviews, and was a quarter-finalist in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Thereafter, the novel was acquired by Rocking Horse Publishing. Two sequels to Excelsior are planned. For more    on Sirois, visit his website: http://www.georgesirois.com.

In addition to the contests, MWG has a great line-up of agents, speakers, and workshops.   Chuck Sambuchino, "an editor and published author who runs the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, one of the biggest blogs in publishing" at Writers Digest, will be the keynote speaker at the Saturday night banquet. 

New York Times best-selling author, Mary Buckham, will offer the luncheon keynote in addition to offering workshops and a Sunday Master class. Other speakers,agents, and workshop and Master class presenters include Sorche Fairbank of Fairbank Literary Representation, Ken Sherman, Ken Sherman & Associates, Gina Panettieri, president, Talcott Notch Literary Services, Laura Biagi, of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc., and Danita Allen Wood, publisher and editor of Missouri Life magazine, and Margie Lawson, Lawson Writing Academy.  Agents  will also be taking scheduled pitches.

To register for the conference, enter the contests, and see all workshops and details, visit the MWG website at http://www.missouriwritersguild.org. Registration can either be done online or via email.

Don't wait! Register today!

Until next time . . .