story contest – deadline delayed!
The deadline for firstwriter.com's
First International Short Story Contest has been delayed by one
month to May 1, 2005 to allow for last minute
The competition is seeking short
stories up to 3,000 words, and is open to stories on any subject
and in any style: literary fiction; genre; romance; horror;
science fiction; experimental – all are acceptable and will be
treated equally – the only criteria on which they will be
judged is the quality of the story and of the writing.
The winner of the competition
will receive a cash prize of £200, or the equivalent in your
currency (that's over $300). Not only that, but there will also
be ten special commendations awarded. All eleven winners will be
published in firstwriter.magazine
and receive a free annual subscription to firstwriter.com
worth $28.49 / £18.99, allowing access to our daily updated
databases of over
200 writing competitions, over
600 literary agents, and over
Another advantage of the firstwriter.com
competition is that submissions are made online – saving you
the hassle of printing and posting. To enter your story online
in seconds go to https://www.firstwriter.com/competitions/short_story_contest/
to get top-selling agents' attention
By Jill Nagle, Founder and Principal
GetPublished, guerrilla guidance for your writing adventure
An excerpt from How
to Find A Literary Agent Who Can Sell Your Book for Top Dollar
Many authors nearly jump out of their shirts when they get an offer of representation from an agent. However, not just any agent has the right contacts to get the kind of money your work may be able to command. A top-selling agent with a recent track record of selling work like yours for the kind of money you want is your best
bet, yet so many authors shy away from approaching top agents, thinking those agents would never pay attention to someone of their stature.
The bad news is, itís true: top agents are often way too busy to give a new client the time of day. So how do you get top agentsí attention? A personal introduction from one of their own author-clients gets an agentís attention more effectively than
almost anything else. Some agents accept only such referrals, and no cold queries.
To create your own such connection, if you donít have
one already, youíll need to approach authors whose work your target agent has sold. Some authors will be more willing than others to talk to you about their book, the process of getting published, and their agent. Those most likely to talk to you will probably be those who:
- are less famous rather than more famous;
- have a book recently out –
theyíll have publicity and connections on their mind, which you can leverage to both your advantages;
- have a book that relates to but doesnít directly compete with yours;
- view you as having something to offer them, which you most certainly do;
- after having looked at your work (proposal, or at least outline/sample chapters), believe it is worthwhile and want to support it.
Hereís how to increase your chances of getting a personal referral to an agent from one of their authors:
- First, create a list of
5–10 agents who have recently sold works similar to your own for the kind of money you want.
- Next, do a search on amazon.com using their text-search function, to get the names of authors whose books that agent has sold. The search will turn up the acknowledgments section in which the author thanks the
agent – thatís how youíll know which authorsí books that agent has sold.
Watch out for the rare agent name mentioned randomly in other sections of the book, as this is probably not an indication but a coincidence. Not every author thanks
their agent, but enough do that you should be able to get a decent handful or two of authors, depending on how prolific the agent.
- Research those authors on the
internet – check out their websites, if any, other places theyíve been published, so that when you approach them, youíll have done your homework on who they are.
- Familiarise yourself with the books of those authors youíll be approaching.
- Decide what youíll be asking the author for. Here are some suggestions:
- an interview, if you have a way to publish it (otherwise you may be perceived as wasting the authorís time
– I know I have been through this!);
- a blurb for your book. Donít ask them to write the foreword
– youíll choose that person from among those who have written you blurbs, as youíll want the most
- help. About 25 per cent of authors will be genuinely interested in helping you as another author. The rest may be threatened, indifferent, or simply too busy.
Do not approach an author right off the bat by asking for an introduction to their agent. Ideally, you want such an introduction to be the authorís idea. At that point you get to remain
sceptical and ask about the authorís experience working with that agent, letting the author convince you to approach that agent!
Hereís a sample letter introducing yourself to an author whose agent you want to meet:
Dear U. R. Published:
Iíve been making my way through Another Way to the
Top, and am particularly enjoying your perspective on Buddhism and gravity.
My own work centres around a Taoist approach to networking, and I was wondering if you might consider blurbing my upcoming book,
Working the Web: How to Expand your Personal and
Professional Network Using Small Increments for Exponential
Results. Iíd be happy to provide you with my outline and sample chapters, along with my bio.
Iíd also be interested in talking with you about your experiences with your agent and publisher.
I can be reached at the number below or you can email me back here at your convenience.
I. L.B. Published, II
Jillís Guerrilla Tip:
Asking another author to blurb your book is a gift, not an imposition on them. First off, itís a compliment, even if they are too busy to receive it. Secondly, itís a great publicity opportunity to get their name in front of their audience, assuming your book reaches a similar audience.
You cannot have too many blurbs
– what you donít use for the back of the book, you can use for other publicity materials, such as a press packet or website.
Hereís another real-life example, a version of which I used with one of my clients:
My name is [Aspiring Author], and I am inspired by your work and your successful marketing efforts. For the past twelve years, I have worked both as a therapist and as a corporate and nonprofit consultant to help engender more effective communication between individuals and within
Although I have approached communication coaching more from a cognitive than spiritual angle, empathy and recognition of the other have showed up as major themes in my work. I see us as taking complementary positions on these topics.
I am currently finishing a book proposal for [Working Book Title], based on [bookís central concept]. [One-paragraph description of project].
I would very much like to send along my outline and sample chapters for your review and possible endorsement. I would also be interested in discussing with you joint publicity opportunities such as talk shows or interviews, and hearing about your experiences with your agent and publisher.
I can send my materials via email attachment or postal mail. I may be reached at this email, or at [phone number].
This letter is more content-driven, and attempts to capture the interest of the author by engaging her on a topic of obvious interest to her. This author also offers ideas for joint publicity
endeavours, demonstrating that sheís got the published authorís interest in mind. She only mentions the agent in passing.
Jillís Guerrilla Tip:
Approach each published author you contact seeking to discover how it is you might work together. This is an important part of pre-publication networking. An agent introduction may well surface as an organic outgrowth of this type of connection. Even if it doesnít, you will have made a potentially important contact.
If after all this, you canít manage to wangle an author introduction, youíve still got a number of other
guerrilla tactics to maximise your chances of getting an offer of representation from an agent.
To learn more about how to avoid putting your dreams on hold by tying up your lifeís work with the wrong agent, get a copy of
How to Find A Literary Agent Who Can Sell Your Book for Top Dollar at
Jill Nagle is a published author and principal of GetPublished,
which provides ghostwriting, coaching, consulting, teleclasses
and more to aspiring and ascending authors. She has been helping
other writers get published for the last decade.
I got a literary agent
interview with author Jeffrey Bishop
Bishop recently placed his book with the Running Water Literary
Agency, which he found using firstwriter.com's
database of literary
agencies. We asked him about his writing, and how he found
fw: Jeffrey Ė thank
you for taking the time to talk to us, and congratulations on
securing a literary agent! Tell us about the book you managed to
place with them.
JB: Bartemus Ammblin in
the Old Forest is set on the Great Plains of North America
10,000 years ago. Within a highly evolved critter society, a
young rabbit named Bartemus Ammblin is trying to survive seventh
grade in the Burrowton School. His best friends, a badger and a
wolverine, support him while he's constantly battling the school
bully, a nasty bullfrog. Bartemus is beginning to show promise
as a mystic and healer and is taking after his grandfather, the
local know-it-all. Bartemus's powers are forced into play when a
band of wolves attack his hometown and take the citizens
hostage. With the help of his friends, a crazy old pheasant, and
some eccentric characters along the way, Bartemus must save the
prairie from the wrath of a tyrant.
it your first book? How long did it take to write, and where do
you get your inspiration from?
JB: This is my first work
of fiction. I've had articles published in nonfiction books and
trade magazines (I'm a composer and orchestra conductor) prior
to this, however. Bartemus took approximately six months
to write. I did a lot of research prior to the actual writing
process, though. I did several trips through the region to
gather information on wildlife and plants. There are recipes and
original music in the books as well, so that took extra time
too. My inspiration came from the fact that I felt that too much
of young adult literature panders to the average kid. I grew up
the typical nerd and was a voracious reader. I see the
literature today as being a far cry from the C.S. Lewis, J.R.R.
Tolkien, and Susan Cooper books of past generations. I don't
pretend to be such a writer, but that's my goal Ė to inspire a
sense of awe and wonder while prodding a young person's
intellect and morality.
The actual inspiration for the
characters, timing, and place came from my intimate relationship
to the prairie. I've lived on or near it my entire life. It just
seemed a natural extension of my own life story.
you mention the fact that you'd previously had nonfiction
articles published? Did it help?
JB: I've had articles
published in Teaching Music Through Performance, in Orchestra
Volumes 1 & 2, the Instrumentalist magazine, and the
trade journal Orchestra News. I did mention this in my
approach along with the fact that I've had over three-dozen
pieces of music for orchestra and band published. I think it's
very important to have at least a foot in the publishing door;
even some nonfiction articles can help!
fw: What made you
decide to try and get a literary agent?
JB: I was lucky enough to
have a friend of a friend who works as a field representative
for a large publishing group. He was kind enough to get the
manuscript into the hands of some high power editors in New York
and London. One of the editors was a big help and offered
several suggestions. I spent a year working on the sequel and
rewriting the last five chapters of the first book. That's when
I started looking for an agent. As a full time teacher,
composer, and conductor I travel across the country doing
clinics and have a full schedule of commissions for new pieces
of music. I needed someone who could work the literary side of
my life while I controlled the musical side.
fw: Once you'd decided
that you needed a literary agent, how did you go about getting
JB: I did what every
aspiring writer does Ė bought the books, subscribed to the
magazines, and read every article on the web that I could find.
I wrote the query letters and sent them out and began a large
collection of rejection slips. I had a hit on one agency that
wanted a huge reading fee and that's when I realised how much
money unscrupulous agents could make in this business! It was a
shocking revelation and one that I won't ever forget. Once I
exhausted most of the standard methods, I found firstwriter.com
and decided to give it a try.
J.K. Rowling got rejection slips! But how long did it take to
get a positive response?
JB: I think I received
over two-dozen rejections. That includes the ones from inside
the industry that my friends helped me with. It took about a
year after I got serious about finding an agent before I landed
one. From the horror stories I've read about, I think I had a
pretty easy go of it considering how bad it could have been.
fw: And how did firstwriter.com
help you to achieve this?
JB: I used the search
engine to narrow the categories down to children's fantasy
within America. That gave me a huge amount, much too cumbersome
to sort through at once, so I began plodding through them a
little at a time. I came to rely on the daily email updates
almost exclusively after a month or so. I would save the ones
that fit my needs, print them off, and send out queries. That's
how I found my agent. It was from one of the InstantAlert
would you say that you found the InstantAlert feature the most
useful aspect of your subscription to firstwriter.com?
JB: I loved the
InstantAlert emails. They became my daily "to do
list." I would sort through them, delete the ones that
weren't pertinent, and then sit down and work on query letters.
It made the process of finding possible agents so much easier.
And in my case, I found an agency that was just getting started,
so that really was to my advantage. I've got an agent who
believes in my work and believes that she can sell my work.
Together we're going to get my work published by the best
possible company. That's such an empowering feeling in this
otherwise eviscerating line of work!
fw: How did you
approach the agents you identified from the InstantAlerts?
JB: I had a standard query
letter that I sent out to several agents (usually 5 to 7) at a
time. I would wait for the replies before sending out another
set. I used the Writer's Markets guidebooks at first, but then
came to rely solely on firstwriter.com, as the agents
were already narrowed down for me. I also changed my query
letter after several rejection slips. I was frustrated that
after having nearly three-dozen pieces of music published that
literature could be so difficult! I had no idea! A little bit of
arrogance and attitude in that first paragraph of the revamped
letter made an
impression. I got three positive replies from agents, two of
which passed on the manuscript, but the last one offered a
fw: What are your plans
now, and how's your agent helping you?
JB: I'll keep on writing.
And my agent will work on selling what I write. She's busy with
the query letters, bios, and other materials for the publishers.
She's been in contact often with regular updates. I am very
happy with the relationship. As for the book, there are sequels
in the works. I have designed the story arc like the plot of a
grand opera: three acts with three scenes in each for a grand
total of nine books. At 300+ pages on average per book, I will
be writing for several years and loving every minute of it.
If you want to see how Bartemus
and company are doing, check him out at www.jeffreysbishop.com.
Jeffrey Ė and best of luck with this and the rest of the
writers at firstwriter.com
for the following invaluable resources for writers:
on this newsletter for as little as $30 / £20 click
uses English spelling conventions.
Spellings such as "realise"
differ from other spelling conventions
but are nonetheless correct.
A celebration of the meaning of
poetry. Mail your meaning of poetry, the sense it has for you in the many artistic forms it can be
expressed – the written word,
photographs, pictures, prints, collages,
illustrations, etc. Make combinations of words and any other art form.
Your meaning of poetry and mailing address must be on one side.
Macanoly V.Q. and/or La Negra Esperanza
To: CID (Digital Information Center)
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Or: Ateneo de La Victoria
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La Victoria-Ribas County-Aragua State
VENEZUELA- South America.
The next Carry on Creative Writing
Course at 44 Portland Place, London, W1B 1NE starts on April 5th and runs for 7 weeks from 6.30-9.30 pm. This
is great opportunity to develop and sustain the writing skills you
already have and to further discover your writing voice. If you have an
idea for a novel you are burning to write, or a collection of short
stories or poetry, this is the perfect opportunity to get started on the
right track. You will be able to share your work each week with the
group and get valuable feedback.
This class operates very much like a writers group with sharing work,
getting feedback from the group and individual advice and
guidance from award winning writer Emilia di
The course costs £125 and information and bookings are available on 020
7079 2855 or info@44portland
place.org.uk – be sure to quote course code
One – Audiobook on CD
PENCIL would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who entered the initial PENCIL Short Story Competition for their effort and
support. Also, a huge thank you to the readers who invested their valuable time by dedicating it to reading through each PENCIL entry. Finally, a big thank you to the 2004 PENCIL judges, Mark Brady and Tina Pisco for their contribution and dedication.
In addition to a small publication, PENCIL has uniquely produced an audiobook CD of readings (mostly by the author) of all the three winning stories, the runner-up story and a selection
(editor's choice) of four other stories.
These are: "Virginia Creeper" by Alexandra Fox,
1st prize (Northampton), "The Reader and the
Writer" by Gillian Rowson, 2nd prize
(Glengarriff), "The Train" by Jud Weidner, 3rd prize (Bantry), special commendations to
"Killers" by Denis OíConnor (Kerry) and
"Love" by Mary Malone (Dublin). Also included are
"The Wacky Baccy Conundrum" by Freddie Sherriff
(Bantry), "November, December" by Ursula Kingston (Bantry). Included on the CD are specially commissioned musical links by Andy Reynolds, CeolNua.com.
To launch this exciting new venture, PENCIL are having a special launch day on Saturday
April 2, 2005 at 4pm at Bantry Library. PENCIL would like to take the opportunity to thank the librarian Noel OíMahony and staff for facilitating the event. PENCIL would also like to extend an invitation to everyone interested. Admission is free and everybody is welcome.
The PENCIL 2005 competition is open for entries, please go to
for further information. We would also like to remind younger writers that PENCIL-TEEN is open for entries, closing date
August 31, 2005. It is hoped that the winners and runners-up from these competitions will be recorded to produce further
Please contact either Camille on 027-51550 or Cammy 028-32921 for further information.
more than 200 other writing contests click
opera / film / theatre collective
Paul Murphy is interested in forming a group
dedicated to formulating resistances to the
of art while still seeking to exist in a commercial
Seeks anyone with enthusiasm but not
necessarily skill or experience (although anyone with
experience of acting, technical support roles,
writing, screenplaywriting, composers, conductors,
performers etc. are welcome) – anyone really who
wants to think about theatre/film/opera,
have fun and enjoyment.
Paul's interests are in radical
kitschy attempts to question the basis of commodity
production but also likes Wagner, Brecht, the
Beatles, Box Car Willie and Bob Hope. This includes
criss-crossing genres and anything at all really,
including porn, musicals, comedies, the more bizarre,
weird and basically mad the better; the more
Post-Modern the better.
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