Friday, December 31, 2010


Good day fellow bloggers. Today I am going to inform you about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards: affectionately known as the ABNA.

Last year I was introduced to this amazing writing contest by a friend. I had just finished what I thought was a polished manuscript. A 125,560 word Y/A fantasy. Needless to say I spend over a year to really polishing my novel. A WILLOW'S TALE is now at a slim 68,000 words.

Before I tell you about the contest itself. I would first like to tell you how this contest launched me into the writing world.

It began with the entry. After finding out I made it through the first/pitch round, I was flying high. I began to visit the threads, eventually commenting. At first my comments amounted to nothing. Many of the contestants knew each other from previous years and chatted back and forth with each other. While waiting for the second round announcements, I managed to be heard here and there. Even though I wasn't "in" the group, I still enjoyed being in the thick of things.

On one faithful day I had the courage to start a thread. I had just received my critiques from my excerpt. And asked the community for some feedback. I was upset because one of the reviewers called my writing amateur. In the thread someone commented that I didn't add to the conversation and then it happened.

Erica from erica and christy came to my rescue. Thank you Erica!  Kind, supportive, and boisterous, Erica told them what of .... that the reviewer never should have wrote that, and theoretically we were all amateurs until we were published.

Eventually she and a few other kind souls helped me with what later became a major edit and restructure. Months of twelve hour days it took to pull my novel together. So you see, this is where it all began.
Erica then joined Christy and created there wonderful blog erica and christy I began to follow the blog world and three months ago I created In Time ...

Now for the contest .....

As you might have guessed it is sponsored by Amazon and Penguin Group and Create a Space. This is their fourth year running it. There are two grand prizes, one for Adult Fiction the other for Young Adult Fiction. The winners receive a $15,000.00 dollar advance and a publishing contract with Penguin. The contest is open to unpublished novels. Yes, self published authors can enter.

Open submissions for manuscripts begin on January 24th, 2011 and run through February 6th, 2011.  They take the first 5000 received in each category. And you must register with Create a Space ... it costs nothing to register. Manuscripts can be from 50,000 to 150,000 words

What you need to submit is a pitch: max-300 words. An excerpt up to 5000 words. Personal information on entry form. And of course, the manuscript itself. There are specific and there are a lot of do's and don'ts. Expect to put in some time. It is well worth your effort. Here is the link to the rules.

After submission the waiting game begins. You wait to see if you make the first cut. Everyone's on the forums relieving their stress and anxieties. You will meet some fantastic people. Threads run like fire, so don't be intimidated. If you feel like participating do it! Eventually you will find your niche.

Here are the dates and phases in the contest.

Submission: Jan. 24- Feb. 6

First round: Feb.7 - Feb 22 ... They read the pitch and select the top 1000 entries in each category.

Second round: Feb. 24 - March 13 Reviewing and judging of excerpts.

On or about March 22nd excerpts are posted on Amazon for everyone, yes everyone ... your friends included, to read and score. Top 250 make the quarter finals. Not the easiest thing to do....

Quarter finals are judged between March 22nd and April 25th ... the full manuscript. Top 50 in each category advance to Semi finalists.

If you are lucky enough to make it this far you advance to Finalist. On or about May 16th you will be notified. Only 3 from each category. Finalist are flown to the host city and judged.

In June the winner is announced.

Well that's the Reader's Digest version everyone. I highly recommend it to all of you that have polished manuscript. It doesn't have to be perfect, but if you want to win, I suggest your perfect it.

This contest is excellent for getting your work seen by our community as well as the publishing community. So take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

Here is the main link ....

Good luck and please let me know if you plan on joining me in the contest! I hope to see you there.

Monday, December 27, 2010


I hope all my wonderful blog friends had a fantastic Christmas. Luckily we still have another week of festivities. I happen to love the week between Christmas and New Years. This is the time to share with friends we didn't have the chance to see during the rush of Christmas.

Now is the time to kick back, have that glass of wine, look at your tree, and catch up with your lives.

I decided to do a post today about Blogging vs. Writing. Over the past several months, since I began to post and read blogs, I have been warned by new blog friends that blogging will take over your life. BE CAREFUL. So many have warned me. IT WILL TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR WRITING! I can see it now in red neon flashing before my eyes.

YES! I have to admit it has taken away a lot of my writing time, BUT ... let's not focus on that, let's focus on what it has given to me.

How can I express to all of you how wonderful this experience has been. My blogging buddies have shared with me their experiences in life, in writing, and their quest for publication. They have shared with me their hopes and dreams, their resources, their knowledge on so many different subjects. I have learned from them how to become a better writer. How to use those resources to further my career as a writer, and how to share what I've learned with other aspiring writers.

HOW could this be a waste of time? It can't! Every word we read on a fellow blogger's post engrains in our mind and soul to use in our own writing whether we know it or not.

SO today, this day, December 27th, I would like to thank all of you, my fellow blogging friends for enriching my life.

Now with that said.... GET BACK TO WRITING! lol

At some point we do manage to balance our time between the two. It is different for everyone. Some of us like to blog after writing a while. It's a nice break. Others blog the first thing in the morning and then spend their day writing. Or you catch up on blogging before bedtime. And finally, if you are like me, you start the morning with your blogging buddies, then go to your WIP. Stop back after a few hours for your blog fix, and continue to write the remainder of the afternoon until you can't hold out any longer for your the next blog fix. I personally need at least three fixes a day....

Enjoy your day fellow bloggers and don't feel guilty spending time with your friends.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Twisted Fairytale entry. LITTLE RED RIDING ... UNHOODED

Francine at Romancing the Stone is hosting a fun blogfrest. Turn a fairytale into a twisted ending. It took me awhile to figure out something twisted enough to write. I hope you enjoy it. It is a bit risque so prepare yourself.

On her way to grandma's house, Red riding hood snagged her fishnet stockings on a bramble along side the path. The wolf stopped and watched.

"Damn! This is my only pair!" She looked down her long legs, raising her already short skirt.

Now that's a tasty looking drumstick, thought the wolf. His long, white teeth shiny from salivating.

"What do I do?' Red said as she frantically searched through her basket. "None of this will help." She set it down. Deep in thought, Red muttered to herself.

The wolf lunged just as Red bent over to pick up her basket. He flew over her, crashing into a solid oak tree.

"Oh, my! What on earth?"She stared at the wolf. Her eyes washed over his fine chiseled features. A mass of thick, wavy, light-brown hair crowned his head. Fine hair covered his ripped, muscular chest, arms, and legs. A narrow sash of royal blue fabric hung low on his hips barely covering his privates. His oversized hands and feet almost looked human.

Stepping closer to the beast, her breathing grew heavy and her full breast heaved.

A low guttural moan escaped from the wolf.

Red moved in closer. She caressed the side of his face and then planted a big juicy one on him. His eyes blinked open. "What are you doing?" he growled.

She laughed, licking her lips. "You're hot, Wolfie! Let's have another!" Red threw her arms around his neck, moving in for the kill.

He pushed her away. "Are you nuts, girl? I want to eat you!"

"Oooo, I would love that." She stood up and lowered her skirt, revealing black lace panties underneath the garters.

The wolf furrowed his furry brow and shook his head. "Are you kidding me?"

Running her hand along her thigh, Red moaned. "I am so turned on." With her other hand, she grabbed the back of his head.

"You're frickin' crazy lady!" The wolf sprang up and ran into the forest.

"WAIT! I thought you were going to eat me!" Red took off after him.

The wolf careened through the forest and saw a little cabin. "I need to hide. That dame's dangerous," he muttered.

He made it to the entrance and opened the door. All seemed quiet. He scoped the living room, looking for a place to hide. Nothing. He heard a soft snore in the bedroom. Hmmmm. Perhaps I'll have lunch after all. He padded into the room. Not much meat on this one, but I do like to eat light for lunch. 

The front door slammed. "Granny, it me, Red riding hood."

It's that freak! Hide! The wolf dove under the bed, just as Granny stirred.

Red stepped into the bedroom and gave her granny a hug. "I brought you a nice lunch, Granny."

"Thank you, sweetie. I am a bit hungry.

During lunch Red told Granny about the hunky wolf in the forest. Granny raised an eyebrow.

"That beast didn't even service you? The nerve. You're the hottest tart in the village."

"I know. I just don't get it."

Underneath the bed, the wolf shook his head. Are these two broads for real?

"Damn. I Really wanted him, too. I didn't even get the chance to peek under his sash. I bet he was fully packed."

"Oh, honey. I had a wolfman once. It was about fifty years ago. Hmmm, Hmmm. I wasn't disappointed." She smiled. "Maybe he was gay. It would explain it."

"That must have been it. No hetero would pass this up." Red stroked her legs.

GAY! ME! I'LL SHOW THEM. In a flash he sprung out from under the bed, growling.

"Look, Granny! That's him. Isn't he gorgeous."

"Well dear, let's get him for you."

Before he knew what hit him, they tied him to the bed spread eagled and gagged. He couldn't believe that and old lady could have so much strength or Red's agility.

"Well dear, have fun." Before she left,  Granny stepped over to the wolf and lifted the blue sash.

Is she kidding. Leave me with some dignity please!

"Oh, yes. I remember so well." A grin crossed her lips. "Yes indeedy."

The wolf couldn't help but snicker and feel proud. Yeah, I'm the wolf!

Red escorted Granny into the living room. "Later, Granny."

Red returned with a gleam in her eye.

I'm in big trouble now....

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Good Morning All,

I just wanted to share with my blog friends that I made it as a finalist in OPEN CITY magazine's short story contest. I submitted THROUGH SHADES OF GRAY in early October. I hadn't heard anything until this afternoon. They had already picked the winner. It would have been much more exciting if they had informed the finalists first and then announced the winner. At least I didn't have to sweat it out and be disappointed.

This was my first favorable acknowledgement from a publication in almost a year. So I am thrilled.

Here is the first 500 of my 5000 word entry.

Through Shades of Gray
Leaving the cold, dank winter behind, I start my car and begin to drive down the skeletal tree-lined street. Turning left at the edge of the park, I motor toward the highway, ready for my escape. The sunlight so present in the south has abandoned the north for what seems like years. Gray skies persist, day after day, and month after month. It has taken its toll on me. 

I have only one thought as I continue the long drive from Chicago to Florida: the sun. How much I took it for granted when I moved to Chicago four years ago from the very place I’m so desperate to return. Then, I could’t wait to move back north. I had missed the four seasons. Little did I know how much the north has changed. No longer did the bright summer days last forever. Overcast skies dominated, covering the little light that broke through the mass of clouds. When the green summer leaves turned brown, I ached for the crisp, sunny days I remembered from long ago.

This year disappointed me just like the others had. The winds turned icy as the trees in the park withered. I looked forward to the first snow. The white powder clinging to the branches and edging the windowsills of buildings, frosted the city with an iridescent glimmer. 

Snow began to fall by late November. The magic was over before it began. The sun hadn’t shone for weeks. One day melted into another. What day is it? I kept asking myself. Is it Christmas yet? Not yet, but soon.

I recall how I couldn’t wait for the holidays to be over. For most, it’s a joyous time. It had been for me too, once, but lately Christmas seemed too much of a hassle. Honestly, I don’t know how I lived through it. New Year’s Eve culminated the end of yet another uneventful year.

Traffic halts as several Mack trucks enter from the on ramp. I change lanes, avoiding the caravan. Despite the congestion, I’m glad to leave the gloominess of winter.

The email I had received from Gabrielle a month ago surprised me. She would be working overseas for the next four months and wondered if I’d house sit for her. We were tight once, but that was in college. She split after graduation. She had heard of my dismal prospects from a mutual friend and thought a change of scenery might be good for me. Hmm, a townhouse on the beach; I’d be a fool to refuse. 

“You can really use a tan. You look like a vampire,” she so subtly pointed out after viewing pics of me on Facebook.  

It’s been years since I’ve had one. The veins in my biceps read like a roadmap running down my arms. And my mass of dark hair and pitch-black eyes do contrast too heavily with my stark, white skin. So here I am, weaving in and out of traffic on my way to the sun and sea.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I am sad to say that today is my last day visiting Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I must admit that the rides held very little interest for me, but I still had to experience them. My favorite by far was the Forbidden Journey, pictured above. After winding through the greenhouses in back of the castle, you climb your way into Hogwarts Castle. As you have seen from many of my former pics, the details are insanely real and beautiful. The pictures speak. Slytherin in particular is unhappy by the "muggle" invasion. Winding through the castle, you visit Dumbledore's office and have a meet with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. As you approach the final corridor and the sorting hat greets you with ride-safety warnings in rhyme.

Next you slip into your comfy bench, the students bring down your safety device and you hold on for DEAR LIFE! Actually it is a very exciting ride and experience. You spin, twist, jerk, and maneuver your way through high action meetings with, spiders, dragons, the whomping willow. and quidditch with Draco Malfoy.  Harry leads you through all these dangerous obstacles. Definitely don't eat a thing before this ride, you are bumped around a lot.

Flight of the Hippogriff is a charming family-friendly roller coaster. As you follow the queue around the grounds, you get see Hagrid's hut and pumpkin patches. The sounds of the munching bowtuckles and Fang barking adds to the charm. Eventually you board the wicker replica of Buckbeak and you're treated with a "bird's eye" view of the castle and surrounding grounds.

For those of you with nerves of steel you will enjoy the Dragon Challenge. Twin Dragon coasters race each other looping, spinning, and cork-screwing. I sat this one out, but I was told it to be one of the most thrilling rides in the park.

Well my fellow HP fanatics, I hope you enjoyed your tour of Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was a thrill a minute and I hope you all can make it there soon. Perhaps we can all meet sometime in the future year!

Don't forget to sign up for my HP BLOGFEST! Prizes are coming from Wizarding World .... You will not be disappointed.

On Saturday I venture back to snow covered Chicago.... Wish me luck this will be one hell of a ride home.

See you soon,