Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,200 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Sharing a Resource

A resource I continually return to is Joel Friedlander’s website The Book Designer. There you’ll find a wealth of information that I’ve written about on this site before. Right now, he’s got a terrific promotion for his book design templates with a free download of all five of his self-publishing guides with any purchase, even just a $5 gift certificate! Even if you don’t have a writer friend who would benefit from a gift certificate or you aren’t quite ready for that fiction, nonfiction or children’s book template or very useful book proposal template – gift your buddy, your mom, your neighbor with a simple gift certificate so you – Independent Author – can benefit from Joel’s generosity. Really though, if you’re an independent author – you just might want to give his templates a try. The free eBooks are a great incentive and bonus. Click the banner below for more information.


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Self-Publishing Means Always Learning

When I published No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups & Critique, thought I’d prepared myself pretty well. I’d gone to workshops, attended conferences, read a lot of blog posts and talked with indie publishing insiders at those conferences – and I still made a 600 print run mistake that cost me a couple thousand dollars and left me with unsalable inventory. In the second printing, the costly error was fixed and I was a bit more humble about what my capabilities were. My education about independent publishing continues and I will continue to share some of what I find here on this site.

Today, check out Kristen Lamb’s blog post Five Mistakes Killing Self-Published Authors. Especially, if you are ready to click that upload button for your first self-published book.

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No Red Pen Helps Fund Emerging Writer Prize

E-BookSince No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups & Critique released in 2012, the Ebook has been a free download. I’m still firmly committed to ensuring this book is easily accessible especially to students and low-income emerging writers. I’m also committed to keeping the Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize going for many years to come. No Red Pen will increase to $1.99 at all Smashwords outlets and will continue as a Kindle $2.99 on Amazon. (This is due to how Amazon prices.) About half the net proceeds will benefit the emerging writer prize fund, in order to keep the fund going.

Additionally, there is a gofundme campaign to raise funds for the annual emerging writer prize. The campaign will continue to run until I’ve raised enough funds to ensure the annual scholarship is awarded for many years to come.

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April is National Poetry Month

While the last week of 2013 winds down, I’m looking ahead to April – which is National Poetry Month. During the month of April, I’ll be highlighting different poets on the site. Visit often to discover a poet or find out more about one you love to read. Discover what poem the poet has written that is their favorite and why. All through April – a different poet every few days. Find out more about National Poetry Month from the Academy of American Poets.

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2014 Emerging Writer Liz Hansen!

The Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize goes to Liz Hansen. She submitted an original presentation to the writing prompt Why I write with a poem rather lizthan the standard essay format. This was a risky move on her part but taking risk is part of becoming an excellent writer. The two other finalists also submitted original presentations creating a three-way tie. When a tie develops, the writing samples are then evaluated and Liz’s narrative nonfiction piece Passing the Grid moved her entry into first place. Liz’s response upon notification? ” I can’t tell you how honored I am to have been chosen by someone with your background.  It means more to me than you will even know…”

winner cert

Liz receives her registration for the 2014 San Francisco Writers Conference, in San Francisco, February 13 – 16, 2014. In additional, she’ll receive a book publishing package courtesy of Bookbaby, and a signed copy of No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups & Critique.

The other finalists also receive a copy of No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups & Critique.

All who entered and do not win are welcome to enter again. Just don’t submit the same entry as a preceding year. The judges have long memories.

For the 2015 Emerging Writer Prize, submissions will open on September 1st, 2014 until December 2nd, 2014. The 2015 Prize will be the 8th year of the scholarship! Please help keep the scholarship going with a donation.

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Emerging Writer Prize Finalists

The two finalists/runner ups for the 2014 Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize are Gretchen Hayduk Wroblewski and Merriam Saunders. Both wrote outstanding responses to the Why I Write prompt. In the next few days, their essays will be posted here. Both were original in presentation and exceptional in quality. Each finalist will receive signed copy of No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups & Critique.

Tomorrow, the 2014 Emerging Writer Prize Winner!

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Emerging Writer Prize Honorable Mention

This year there were 26 entries for the Emerging Writer Prize. This is about half from previous years. Hopefully, next year entries will pick back up. The three finalists have been selected. Their responses to the writing prompt Why I write as well as their writing samples are undergoing evaluation. There are a few honorable mentions: Kristina Tong, Rosie Sorenson, and Denise Larson all made it through several rounds of evaluation.

There are still a couple other SFWC scholarship competitions open for another week or two. All those who were not selected are encouraged to attempt some of the other competitions.

Next year’s competition opens September 1st. I hope this year’s entrants will try again. Just a word of advice. If you do enter again, make sure you send new, original work. Someone who entered last year entered again, and what was exceptional last year was just stale this year.

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Primary Lessons by Sarah Bracey White

primary lessonsSarah loves to learn and as a joyous, clever toddler she is growing up in her Philadelphia Aunt’s home where the future is bright. She can be anything, do anything, her Aunt Susie tells her. When her friend starts kindergarten, she wants to follow, and talks her way into the neighborhood Catholic school – even though she’s only four. She’s advanced to the next grade at the end of the year. Except her mother returns and takes her back to South Carolina. She leaves the only home she’s known. A place where she was encouraged to ask questions, seek out answers, and aspire to become whatever she could dream. Dreams are dust in a place defined not by ability, but the color of your skin.

Primary Lessons is the true story of Sarah Bracey White’s childhood and coming of age. This is a personal story reflecting the struggle and trauma of systemic cultural racism and its cousin classism in mid 20th century America. While the setting of Philadelphia is a small part of the book, this provides a comparative backdrop for all that follows. In those crucial early years of 0 – five, Sarah lives in a nice middle class home in a big city, enjoys the ease of indoor plumbing and is encouraged in her creativity and questioning about the world. In Sumter, South Carolina, she is brought back to a family she’s never known. Despite her single mother’s quite respectable position as school teacher, the family lives in poverty, crowded in a small shack compared to Aunt Susie’s home, without plumbing and an outhouse for a toilet. The once distant mother is now ruling her every movement, older sisters perceive her in the way or a nuisance and she has no friends to play with except her paper dolls. Instead of encouragement, she now hears she isn’t old enough. Instead of school she plays alone. Instead of possibility, her life is defined by what she cannot do because of the color of her skin, aggravated by the perception her mother has about what is proper and respectable all driven by her mother’s own demons fueled by the inequities of Jim Crow south. Where a question once brought learning and discovery, now it can as easily bring a slap for endangering the family or future.

Singular events define Sarah’s life. The story presents well how young children learn to interact with their world based upon those decisions they make when small about how their world works and how to protect themselves from hurt. There is a great deal of hurt in Primary Lessons. The harsh impact racism had and continues to have in this country is ever-present.

There is also a great deal of perseverance. Sarah rebels and chafes against the restrictions of southern society and segregation personified in her mother. She grows up longing to belong, for a real family that would envelop her in the love she remembered from her time with Aunt Susie. She will not give in to fate. She will prevail. In the process, she will learn how close love and hate are in a family, hope often wears the mask of despair for its own survival and that every dream requires sacrifice.

About the author:

Sarah Bracey White was born in Sumter, SC. She is a librarian, teacher and motivational speaker. As a long-time arts consultant to the Town of Greenburgh, she designed and manages a creative writing program for children, edits an annual edition of their short stories and sponsors an annual poetry contest. The author of a collection of poetry, Feelings Brought to Surface, her creative essays are included in the anthologies Children of the Dream; Dreaming in Color, Living in Black and White; Aunties: 35 Writers Celebrate Their Other Mother; Gardening On A Deeper Level and Heartscapes. Her essays have been published in many regional newspapers and on the internetHer memoirPrimary Lessons, was published by CavanKerry Press in September, 2013. She lives with her husband in Westchester County, NY.

Sarah was interviewed for Three by Five in July.

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Breadcrumbs to Blogs

There is so much to read on the web! Think of these as breadcrumbs, leading to a banquet of selections for your plate of experiences here in the wild internet.

First up – Molly Greene: Writer.

Molly has two previous books  and launching now, her latest mystery novel Rapunzel. Find out more about her books on her site. She blogs on writing and the writing life several times a week. Check out her post Self-Publishing: 6 Valuable Lessons I Learned Between Book #1 & #2 for some helpful hints post publishing that first book. The one that really stood out for me? Number 3 – “Confidence and experience strengthened my personal filter.” The key take away: There is a great deal of information out there, use other opinions on what to do as a guide but do what is best for you as long as you cover the basics – “You must have a well-written, well-edited, well-proofed and well-formatted book with a professional-looking cover.”

Second – O-Dark-Thirty.

O-Dark-Thirty is the literary journal for the Veterans Writing Project. The Veterans Writing Project provides no cost writing workshops and conferences for veterans, service members and military family members. Combining both print (O Dark Thirty) and online (The Report), the site offers opportunity for members of the military community to publish their work and for those without military experience to gain insight and perspective on what our service members and their families go through. The print journal publishes 4 times a year. The Report updates often with new work. Make this one of your must read stops when surfing the net and order a print subscription. For a sample read, Kevin Neirbo’s Later explores a Marine’s coming of age.

Third – Beyond The Margins.

Truly a smorgasbord of writerly edification options. “Think literary magazine run amok,” is how the site describes itself. A dozen contributing writers plus guest posters present diverse voices and experiences on the craft of writing and business of publishing. A recent post by Randy Sue Myers entitled Manners for Writers has some useful hints about writer behavior in the literary community. A key point not enough bloggers and tweeters understand – “Most readers…don’t want to hear complaints about how tired you are, how much you hate writing, and what a grind it is to revise. It’s better not to show how the sausage is made.” Yep,  and I’ve done this too, it’s easy when it’s time to log on and make a new post to fall back to what isn’t working. I see more than a few updates that are complaints and there is nothing in a complaint that encourages me to keep writing. If you can take that complaint and turn it into a useful piece of reflection, well, that’s another story.

Three breadcrumbs to follow, and each will lead you to other resources and readings. Enjoy.

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