Issue #115

Free Writers' Newsletter

Oct 28, 2012  



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Short story anthology now available

A short story collection including the winner and special commendations of the Eighth International Short Story Contest is now available to download as an ebook from Amazon.

The anthology is entitled the Eighth Short Story Anthology (in order to match the number of the competition), though it is the first time that the winning entries have been published together as an ebook before appearing in firstwriter.magazine

It is hoped that the winning stories from the previous seven competitions will all be released in ebooks of their own in due course, and indeed the winners of the First International Short Story Contest are already available in the First Short Story Anthology, which is also available through Amazon.

The Eighth Short Story Anthology can be purchased for $4.93 from and for £3.08 through, as well as through a variety of other Amazon outlets around the world.

If you'd like to be in with a chance of seeing your story appear in next year's anthology you can enter the Ninth International Short Story Contest online by clicking here.

For the details of over 70 other short story contests currently accepting entries, click here


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How I found a publisher
An interview with author, Jack Walker

Jack Walker recently acquired a publisher using's database of publishers. We asked him about his writing, and how he found success.

fw: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Jack, and congratulations on having found a publisher for your book! What kind of novel is it?

JW: Ití called The Church Choir Murders. Itís a Romantic Mystery.

fw: What made you think of writing a murder mystery about a church choir?

JW: I served as Director of Music and Worship at Brentwood Presbyterian Church in West LA and decided to write about something I knew. I have also spent my life writing music and there is a lot of that knowledge represented in the novel.

fw: What gave you the inspiration to write it?

JW: I usually read two or three books a week. One morning I was reading a Nora Roberts book in my bubble bath and when I finished I glanced at the back fly and saw that she had 280 million books in print. I threw it over the side and said, ďI can write one of theseĒ. I finished the first draft in exactly four weeks. It was the most fun Iíve ever had. A daunting three months later I had my sixth draft, joined your group and began to submit it. I might add I joined the Westside Writers Group and got great feedback from them and their leader Wes Alderson.

fw: Had you done any writing before?

JW: Iíve spent my life writing songs, musicals, jingles and scores to films which have been published and were seen and heard in them and for which I was paid. Iím seventy-three, so it has been a looong history. A lot of it can be found on my website; Although Iíve written articles and other small projects, Iíve never written a novel nor even thought about it until the fateful morning.



fw: Once you'd finished it, what did you do to try and get it published? Did you approach agents first, or publishers directly?

JW: I started submitting to both through the agents and publishers in's lists. Not one literary agent responded. I began getting hits at publishers on the strength of my one page synopsis. Knowing the need to ďget in the doorĒ I kept the synopsis short as if it was what you would read on the inside front fly of a book. Three publishing senior editors answered my query and turned it over to the editor in charge of the division they thought it fit. Those editors asked for the first thirty pages and although I got good responses it wasnít until your new listing of Itoh Press that I finally got asked for the whole book and a publishing contract was offered.

fw: Did you try any other methods besides

JW: I guess I got lucky because you were my first signup and I didnít need to look any further.

fw: What did you find most useful about

JW: I guess the new publisher InstantAlert emails you send out. Thatís where I got the best response.

fw: How did you send out your approaches? 

JW: I did only online queries. Theyíre pretty strict about what to send. I guess my research has been my reading addiction which gave me a great knowledge of the genre I chose which was romance, but with a story around it that is compelling. Make no mistake, this is not great literature that I write, but if youíre into romance novels, I think it is engaging.

fw: How many publishers and agents did you approach?

JW: Probably ten or more literary agents which went nowhere and five or so publishers who all responded. Again I think it was the engaging quality of the synopsis. I did research how to write a synopsis and one of those sites suggested it should be short like the inside fly on a book. I had at this time a four page boring, recap of the book.

fw: How did you deal with the rejections?

JW: Having spent my life submitting songs, etc. I knew the odds. In music I would finally get someone who liked what I had to offer for every ten to twenty submissions. In this case almost all of the publishers responded and all were gracious in their rejections and not in a condescending way.

fw: Why do you think you were successful with your approach to Itoh Press in particular?

JW: They are new and I seemed to strike a chord with them. They have already agreed to publish my second novel.

fw: How have you found the publishing process? Was it difficult to have other people tampering with your work?

JW: No, in fact I received great editing. As I expressed in the acknowledgements, the editor ďbaby steppedĒ me through the whole process. The book is on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and their ebooks.

fw: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

JW: As I expressed in my second book itís the old conundrum: you canít get an agent until youíre published and you canít get published until you have an agent. I somehow skipped the agent part. Iím also going to share my synopsis, which I feel was the number one reason I got published:

The Church Choir Murders
A Romance Mystery
Jack K. Walker

Ken Lockard is 31 and runs a detective agency he inherited from his uncle who adopted him when his parents were killed in an auto accident. He is a singer, a songwriter and has become wealthy when his uncle dies and leaves his Solvang ranch, the agency and a seven figure inheritance. 

He meets Jenny at their local Starbucks and is immediately smitten. She on the other hand has just gotten over a relationship and has promised herself that she will wait at least 6 months before she will consider another one. When Ken finds out she sings in a local church choir, he joins to be near her. 

Soon everything is in turmoil with the suspicious death of one of the choir members and the ensuing death of another member at the choirís annual Choir Retreat. All hell breaks loose with threatening phone calls, break-ins and murder attempts on Kenís and Jennyís lives. Through it all Ken courts Jenny and tries to break down her wall of resistance.

The story roars to a conclusion with a kidnapping, failed murder attempt and the pair and Jennyís parents being run off the road near Solvang, California. Who is behind all this? Does Ken finally wear down Jennyís resistance? Will one of the many possible suspects be brought to justice? What is the big secret that has brought all of this on?

All these questions will be answered and more by the storyís end. In the meantime you will be taking a trip through the church choir activities and performances, a true intriguing romance, a church choir retreat, some hot sex and all of the musical knowledge you learn from Ken and the choir director, Jack Wilson.

fw: How are things going with the second book?

JW: Iíve just submitted my second book which was inspired by one of my songs and in the process of the book I wrote a second song. Iím going to make both songs available to be downloaded at my website.

fw: Good luck with everything, Jack – and thank you again for taking the time to talk to us!

To search's database of over 1,400 book publishers for the one that could take on your book, click here.



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Free tip sheet for comedy writers

Whatís the Trick to Writing Comedy?

The answer is to write one great line over and over again. Some writers try to tackle the whole piece instead of focusing in on each individual element.

To combat this, Gene Perretís Round Table has developed a tip sheet on Writing One GREAT Line, and it is being offered absolutely free to writers.

The two-page informational sheet offers advice that they have found useful in concentrating on generating a great line. Once you have one, you can continue on to the next one until you have your whole chunk of material.

Copies can be obtained by sending an email to requesting the tip sheet or by sending an SASE to: PO Box 786, Agoura Hills, CA 91376.



Deadlines for TWP Screenplay Contest approaching

The deadlines for the The Writers Place Screenplay Contest are fast approaching. Writers have only until October 31, 2012, to submit at the standard submission rate, however submissions will continue to be accepted until the late deadline of November 15, 2012, with an additional $10 surcharge.

The competition is open to screenplays or teleplays/shorts. Works by single or multiple authors welcomed, as are single or multiple entries. All genres and lifestyle scripts are accepted.

The standard submission fees are as follows:

  • Single full-length screenplay or MOW (not more than 130 pages): $55
  • Single Ĺ hour short or teleplay (not more than 45 pages): $35
  • Two full-length screenplays or MOWs: $85 (two script limit)
  • Two Ĺ hour shorts or teleplays: $60 (two script limit)
  • Late Fee: (submitted after 31October 2012): Standard fee + $10 per script

Submissions are all made electronically Ė no paper, no envelope, no postage. See 

Finalists will be announced on December 1, 2012, and winners will be announced on January 1, 2013.

For the details of over 100 other current writing contests, click here


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