Usually, it’s a journey without maps but a journey with a destination, so I know how it’s going to begin and I know how it’s going to end, but I don’t know how I’m going to get from one to the other. That, really, is the struggle of the novel.”  Martin Amis

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This week, I continue my recap of publisher spotlights from the 2015 Romance Writers of American convention with a look at Avon Books.

The Spotlight on Avon was presented by Editorial Director Erica Tsang, Associate Editor Chelsey Emmelhainzd, Assistant Editor Nicole Fischer, and Editorial Assistant Elle Keck.  The spotlight began with a short film with all the Avon editors talking about the first romance novel they remember reading and why they love romance novels.

Next was a series of slides highlighting current Avon authors and their books. The panel also gave away prizes to people who correctly answered trivia questions about romances.

Avon is looking for new authors with marketable concepts, compelling voices, great story hooks and terrific happy endings. New authors they have recently acquired have written small town contemporaries, Victorian historicals, romantic suspense and New Adult novels. Avon publishes romance in digital first and mass market formats.

Avon FanLit is a community based platform where aspiring and published authors come together to create original concepts. FanLit is one way to gain the attention of Avon Editors, who post prompts on the website. Participants create new chapters in an ongoing story, based on the prompts. Fellow writers, readers and editors comment on the posted work and a chapter winner was announced at the end of a voting period. Avon will publish the novella that resulted from the contest and one of the winning authors received a publishing contract with Avon Impulse.

Avon Impulse is Avon’s digital-first imprint. Since 2011 Avon Impulse has published digital first romance by both new and established authors. Forty percent of Avon Impulse titles sell more than 10,000 copies, and four Impulse authors have transitioned into print.  Forty aspiring authors have made their first sales to Avon Impulse. Avon does a lot of marketing for its Impulse titles. Authors earn 25 percent royalties on the first 10,000 copies and 50 percent royalties thereafter. Avon pays these royalties monthly. Each impulse title of 22,500 words and more is also published in trade paper. Avon subrights teams also sell rights to Avon Impulse titles to 18 countries and 17 languages.

Next, the editors played a video of Avon authors talking about their experiences working with Avon.

The next topic was marketing. Each Avon title has a marketing plan. Avon promotes books through its Avon From the Heart newsletter, which goes to 75,000 subscribers two to three times a month. BookPerk is a HarperCollins version of BookBub, a daily email newsletter that goes to over 350,000 subscribers and features specially priced deals on Avon titles. There is also a BookPerk ap for smart phones. They also do a lot of digital promotions with special placement at ebook retailers. Avon also is active on all social media platforms. They do Facebook launch parties, Twitter author takeovers, Twitter chats, and Instagram giveaways. They provide social media training for authors also.

Avon publicists received a shout out for their work getting Avon books in front of bloggers, reviewers and readers. Each book is assigned a publicist and these publicists schedule personalized blog tours for each title. The publicists also work with Avon Addicts, their social media street team. This year Avon launched Kiss Cons – Avon only multi-author events that allow readers to interact with their favorite authors.

Avon books should have strong commercial potential and series potential. Some things that do especially well for Avon: historical romances with a strong hook, romantic suspense, very sexy contemporary romance, and trilogies or longer series of books. They like sexy, determined heroes; smart, daring heroines; dark and dramatic, emotional stories; and series.

You do not need an agent to submit to Avon.  Upload the manuscript here and an editor will read your manuscript.

When submitting your manuscript to Avon.com, you may address your submission to a specific editor. There’s also a place to mention if you met an editor at a conference or online.

You can find out more about all the Avon editors here and read their personal wish lists.

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Entangled Editors have posted their wish lists for this fall and winter.

Alethea Spiridon Hopson is looking for stories for Entangled Indulgence that feature Greek or Italian/Sicilian alpha males and sassy heroines. Stories should be set in Spain, Monaco, Greece or Italy.

Alycian Tornetta edits young adult and new adult and would love to see a YA fantasy series with a compelling romance or a contemporary YA romance featuring time travel or parallel universes. She loves stories with bad boy heroes and cute, nerdy girls. For new adult, she wants sexy, trope-driven romances, sports romances, or a series featuring camp counselors. Alycian also acquires adult romance and would love some small town contemporaries or Regency or Victorian historicals.

Candace Havens would love some stories for Indulgence that feature rich, alpha heroes — particularly British, Scottish or Irish men. She’s tired of office romances and would like to see some different settings. For historical, she likes Regency and Edwardian stories that are fast-paced with smart dialogue.

Erin Molta is looking for single-title historical romance — Regency, Scottish or Vikings. Sexy, with irresistible alpha males.

Heather Howland wants category romance that breaks the mold for Brazen and Lovestruck — characters who don’t do the expected thing. She likes dark new adult stories, YA psychological thrillers and spicy contemporary romance.

Karen Grove would like contemporary romance set in wine country. She is also interested in New Adult stories that feature heros and heroines just starting their careers in the corporate world, training to be police or firefighters, or enrolled in one of the military academies.

Kate Brauning wants “high concept, big-hook, fast-paced” young adult and new adult. She also likes “messy, dark” stories.

Laura Stone is interested in a conspiracy-based thirller. She likes paranormal stories that aren’t werewolf or vampire-based, retold fairytales with contemporary settings, and time travels where a historical hero comes forward to a heroine’s contemporary world.

Lydia Sharp wants sci-fi YA set on earth — but not dystopian or post-apocalyptic. She enjoys YA historical fantasy or alternative history and YA fairytale retellings. Lydia would also like to see stories featuring people of color and gay or lesbian couples.

Robin Hasseltine likes contemporary romantic comedy, Alpha male historicals, and sci-fi romance that isn’t tech-heavy.

Stacy Abrams would enjoy some stories for Bliss that feature animals as secondary characters. She would like some stories set in an everyday high school with a sci-fi twist, and time-travel or dystopian stories.

Stephen Morgan is also a fan of romantic comedy, He would love a YA time travel or reimagined YA fairytales. He would like to see more diverse heroines and is open to Beta as well as Alpha males. He likes stories that put the hero or heroine out of their element.

Suzanne Evans wants dark teen stories and hot Viking and Highlander historicals.

Tracy Montoya loves space opera sci-fi and would love to acquire more writers of color.

Wendy Chin loves contemporary category romance She loves marriage of convenience, enemies to lovers,  and stories that balance conflict and chemistry.

Read more about these editors and what they are looking for here. 

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As always, feel free to share the information in this blog with others. Repost, reprint, retweet, etc. Please give me credit as the source of the information and include a link to this blog. For more about me, visit my websites here and here, or check me out on Facebook. 

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This week I’m continuing my recaps of publisher spotlights from the Romance Writers of America annual conference in New York City with a look at Pocket and Gallery Books.

The Spotlight on Pocket and Gallery Books featured videos, podcasts snippets, games and giveaways. Editorial Director Lauren McKenna, Executive Editor Adam Wilson, Executive Editor Miki Nuding and Editor Abby Ziedel presented the workshop.  Pocket and Gallery are divisions of Simon and Schuster.

Adam Wilson spoke about Gallery Books. Gallery publishes a number of best-selling authors. He spoke about these authors and their upcoming books. Gallery publishes a lot of pop-culture and celebrity non-fiction, but they also do a lot of romance, both historical and contemporary.

Lauren McKenna talked about Pocket Star, Pocket Gallery’s digital first division. They publish four to five titles a month. Each book has its own publicist and marketing plan. They do originals and reprints. They publish romance, erotica, urban fantasy, new adult and some mystery and thrillers.

Abby Ziedel talked about XOXO After Dark, Pocket’s romance website.  This includes a showroom for Pocket Star. The website encourages reader engagement with free reads and excerpts, contests, and author blogs. They also do a weekly podcast in which the editors talk romance, pop culture and anything that captures their attention. Sometimes they interview authors.

Miki Nuding talked about Pocket Books, which celebrated its 90th anniversary last year. Pocket publishes all different genres of romance. She, like the other editors, reviewed a list of Pocket authors and their new releases.

The editors spoke briefly about their wish lists.

Abby doesn’t like kids in books, but she loves dogs, cats and horses. She would love to see a story about a virus in a submarine.

Lauren loves “hot, dark, screwed-up heroes” in any genre. She likes paranormal, though it’s a hard sell these days. She loves contemporary romance.

Miki loves a really good, emotional story – especially if you can make her laugh.

Adam also loves humor. He would like to see more stories out of geek culture.

Pocket Gallery accepts agented submissions only.

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My free online read, Black Canyon Betrayal, continues this week with Chapter Two. You can read all the chapters posted to date at any time here. Black Canyon Betrayal is part of my Ranger Brigade miniseries for Harlequin Intrigue. bookbanner

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Lee and Low Books is sponsoring a New Visions Award for middle grade and young adult writers of color. First prize is $1000 and a publishing contract with Tu Books, Lee and Low’s YA and MG imprint. There is no fee to enter. Manuscripts should be appropriate for children 8 to 12 or young adults 12 to 18. The work may be in any fiction genre, but the editors are particularly interested in science fiction and fantasy. Each author may submit up to two entries. For detailed how-tos and more about Lee and Low Books, go here. The deadline for entries is October 31, 2015.

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Anderbo.com is sponsoring the RRofihe Trophy short story contest. Submit your previously unpublished short story of between 3,500 and 5,000 words by the deadline of October 15, 2015 for a chance at the $500 prize and the Rrofihe Trophy. There is no fee to enter the contest, which will be judged by multi-published short story author Rick Rofihe. For all the details go here. .

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As always, feel free to share the information in this blog with others. Repost, reprint, retweet, etc. Please give me credit as the source of the information and include a link to this blog. For more about me, visit my websites here and here, or check me out on Facebook. 

“People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.” – Harlan Ellison

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This week I begin my review of publisher spotlights from the Romance Writers of America annual conference in New York City. This year’s spotlights included a good mix of large and small publishers who publish a wide variety of romance and other fiction. Up this week: Kensington Books.

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Editor Alicia Condon started off the spotlight. The focus of the Spotlight on Kensington Books was on letting attendees know what makes Kensington different from everyone else. Ms. Condon noted that lLast year the company celebrated its 40th anniversary. It is the largest New York-based independent publisher in the U.S. Steve and Adam Zacharias run the family-owned company. Being small allows them to respond more quickly to changing market trends. They give personal attention to each author but are large enough to have books on the New York Times list almost every week. Kensington editors and departments work at a team. As a smaller company, everyone knows everyone else.

Senior Editor Esi Sogah presented an overview of the kinds of books Kensington publishes. They publish over 500 books annually, in all genres and all formats. Zebra is the main mass-market romance imprint, publishing historical, contemporary, erotica, sweet romances, romantic suspense, paranormal – everything romance. Lyrical is Kensington’s digital first publishing program. In 2016 Zebra will debut Zebra Shout, which will focus on debut authors. The books will be priced at $4.99. Lyrical authors will also have the opportunity to move from ebook only to print in the Zebra Shout program. Dafina, Kensington’s African-American and multi-cultural program publishes over 80 books a year in all formats and all genres. Dafina is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Pinnacle publishes thrillers, westerns and true crime. Sogah emphasized that Kensington is willing to take risks on authors.

Associate Editor Martin Biro talked about Lyrical Press, Kensington’s digital-first imprint. They publish 20+ books a month and are growing fast. They also release a trade-paper POD version of every Lyrical book that is 60,000 words and up. Lyrical publishes a wide variety of fiction. It is very romance focused, but they also publish mystery and suspense with Lyrical Underground and contemporary romance with Lyrical Shine. They publish mainstream commercial fiction and young adult in Lyrical also. Lyrical is actively acquiring and they are open to experimenting with a wide variety of fiction.

Tara Gavin is the newest editor with Kensington. She comes to Kensington after a long career with Harlequin. She spoke about how to submit to Kensington. Kensington accepts queries from both agented and unagented authors. She advised authors to study the market and think about where they fit in best. Read a lot and become familiar with what each publisher publishes. Send your query electronically and in your query let the editor know you have a complete manuscript. Compare your work to books that are already in the marketplace. This helps the editor understand the type of book you are writing and where it fits in the market. Summarize the story in a few paragraphs. Include a synopsis of a couple of pages with your query letter. Submit to only one editor at Kensington, but if the manuscript is not right for that editor and he or she believes another editor would like it, he or she will pass the submission on to them. Tara is actively acquiring and building an author base.

Alex Nicolajsen is the associate director of digital at Kensington. She works with Lyrical. She talked about marketing and Kensington. Vida Engstrom is director of marketing at Kensington. They develop a marketing plan for each book and have a dedicated communications person for each genre and imprint. They brainstorm ways to promote books.

The next section of the Spotlight was devoted to each editor revealing what is on their wish list.

Alicia Condon is looking for a “fantastic Amish romance” with a fresh theme or a fresh setting. She noted they have an Amish series that is set in Appalachia, which is the type of unusual setting they are looking for. She is looking for a mystery romance with a humorous, off-beat voice. She would love some “feel-good fiction” exploring the themes of friendship and family, on the sweeter side, verging on inspirational but not inspirational.

Tara Gavin loves historical mysteries. She would love to find some new cozy mystery series. She loves series and readers do too. She wants women’s fiction that focuses on community.

Alex would love to see a sexy cozy mystery for Lyrical, as well as contemporary romance with different settings, such as the French countryside.

Martin Biro said he’s looking for more mysteries for Lyrical. Personally, he loves historical romance from different settings and cultures. He also said if anyone wants to write “Dexter meets Murder She Wrote” he would probably buy it.

Esi Sogah is also very interested in sexy cozy mysteries. She would love to see more historicals with unique settings. She would also like an American romance set in the earlier part of the 20th century – roaring 20s or turn-of-the-century.

Alica Condon announced that Wendy McCurdy is joining Kensington as of August 3rd. McCurdy is a former senior editor at Bantam Dell and the former executive editor at Berkley. She is acquiring women’s fiction and romance.

You can find out more about what specific Kensington editors are looking for at their website 

The editors present briefly talked about their pet peeves. Do your research and confirm the editor you are submitting to actually works on the kind of book you are writing – don’t send your YA to an editor who doesn’t work on YA. Spell the editor’s name correctly, and verify their gender (Alex doesn’t want to be addressed as ‘Mr.’).

You can reach any editor at Kensington via email by addressing your email to them using the address of their first initial last name @kensingtonbooks.com

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Starting this week you can read a free story by me online at Harlequin.com. Black Canyon Betrayal is part of my Ranger Brigade miniseries from Harlequin Intrigue, and for the next ten weeks you can read a new chapter each week here. And check out all the books in the series. bookbanner

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The Dark City is seeking crime and mystery short stories, 1,000 to 7,500 words. Editor and Publisher Steven Oliver is interested in stories that explore the dark underworld of crime and the immoral side of human nature. Currently he is particularly interested in stories set in the western U.S. with a basis in reality. Payment is $25 per story. See the guidelines here. 

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CBAY Books (Children’s Brains Are Yummy” is seeking stories about giants and ogres for an upcoming anthology aimed at readers 13 to 18 years old. Editor Madeline Smoot is looking for science fiction or fantasy stories of up to 5,000 words which feature a giant or ogre from a classic fairy tale, re-imagined in either a re-told fairy tale or a new story. Payment is $30 per story and the deadline for submissions is September 18. Learn more here.

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As always, feel free to share the information in this blog with others. Repost, reprint, retweet, etc. Please give me credit as the source of the information and include a link to this blog. For more about me, visit my websites here and here, or check me out on Facebook. 

“I want to write books that unlock the traffic jam in everybody’s head.” John Updike

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Once again, Minotaur Books and Mystery Writers of America are sponsoring a First Crime Novel Competition. Previously unpublished writers may submit a manuscript of at least 40,000 words that features a murder or other serious crime at the heart of the story. The winner will receive a publishing contract with Minotaur (a division of St. Martin’s Press) and a $10,000 advance against royalties. The deadline to enter is December 14, 2015. Get all the details here. 

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Joey Magazine, an online literary journal, is looking for 750 – 1,000 word short stories that are “fun and entertaining, or that make us cry.” Payment is $50 per story. Check our Joey here. Then review their guidelines here. 

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Romance publisher The Wild Rose Press is looking for manuscripts for a few upcoming special themed anthologies. The editors are seeking Arranged Marriage stories (primarily historical, but if you can create a plausible contemporary arranged marriage storyline, they are open to that as well.) These stories must feature an announcement or advertisement for a spouse in the first 20 pages of the story, as the catalyst for the story. Manuscripts should be 20,000 words and up.

Real Men Wear Kilts will feature kilt-wearing men in all sub-genres of romance — historical, contemporary, paranormal, futuristic, suspense, M/M and wherever your imagination takes you. 20,000 to 40,000 words. Deadline for submissions is October 1, 2015.

Read all about these special calls and others here. 

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Fictuary is sponsoring a free short fiction contest. The contest is open to any type of fiction, 1,000 to 4,000 words. The deadline to enter is August 31, 2015. The winner will receive $50 and publication in Feed Me Fiction magazine. Get the details here. 

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As always, feel free to share the information in this blog with others. Repost, reprint, retweet, etc. Please give me credit as the source of the information and include a link to this blog. For more about me, visit my websites here and here, or check me out on Facebook. 

Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will.” Johann Wolfgang van Goethe
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I’m back from the Romance Writers of America conference. In a few weeks I’ll begin my recap of publishers’ spotlights from the conference, though I will say there was no earth-shattering news from the conference. Today, however, I’m passing on information about some short story markets.

Country Woman magazine is interested in short stories featuring country women, which they define as a woman living on a farm or ranch or in a rural small town. Stories must have a country setting and be positive and upbeat. 750-1000 words. Payment varies. The magazine publishes every other month and the editors would like to include a short story in each issue. Fine guidelines here.

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ScreaminMamas is holding a Valentine’s Day Fiction contest. Submit your light romantic comedy — historical or contemporary — or 800 to 2,000 words featuring a romance that might be found in the everyday life of a mom. The deadline is midnight, September 30. Get the details here.

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Book Three of my Ranger Brigade series for Harlequin Intrigue is out now. Colorado Bodyguard features a sister desperate to find her missing sibling, a protective Ranger, and a loyal police dog. 9780373698530

The rugged terrain of Colorado wouldn’t make their mission easy. Nor would the attraction between them. 

Sophie Montgomery’s sister was missing and her trail stopped dead in the Black Canyon—which was firmly in Rand Knightbridge’s jurisdiction. Part of the Ranger Brigade, he could lead Sophie on a search deep into this remote part of Colorado. Although afraid to disappoint the desperate beauty, Rand couldn’t ignore her determination. But it was clear she needed protecting after shots rang out and Sophie barely escaped with her life. Now, as the job he’d reluctantly agreed to became a very personal mission, Rand knew he’d do anything to bring Sophie’s sister home. Because seeing Sophie happy was the only outcome he’d allow. Or accept.

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Times of the Islands features articles and stories about the Turks and Caicos Islands. The editors are interested in fiction set on the islands and are open to all types of stories, from adventure and mystery to humor and historical. Stories should be 1,000 to 3,000 words. Payment is $250 – $400. They buy two to three stories a year.  Visit the magazine’s website here.

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Are you a runner? Running Times welcomes any genre of short fiction that features a running-related theme or characters who are runners. 1,500 to 3,000 words. Payment is $100 — $500 per story. Check out the magazine’s website here.

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Ocean magazine wants fiction centered around the ocean and its creatures. The editors welcome adventure, fantasy, romance and historical stories, 100 – 2,000 words. Payment is $75 – $150. Visit their website here.

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As always, feel free to share the information in this blog with others. Repost, reprint, retweet, etc. Please give me credit as the source of the information and include a link to this blog. For more about me, visit my websites here and here, or check me out on Facebook. 

Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” Les Brown

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Harlequin Books and Wattpad are teaming up to sponsor the 2015 So You Think You Can Write competition. Since the competition began in 2010, 30 authors have been awarded publishing contracts with Harlequin as a result. There is no fee to enter. Entrants post their manuscripts on Wattpad and receive feedback from readers as well as Harlequin editors. Categories include all subgenres of romance, including scifi/futuristic, LGBTQ and New Adult. To enter, sign up for Wattpad and post your entry by September 21, 2015. For all the details, go here.

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Sixpenny is a quarterly publication that combines short stories and art in a pocket-sized publication. Sixpenny publishes three stories per issue and pays $150 per story. Submit your 1000 to 1250 word story of any type. The editors state they are looking for “literary fiction with a punch.” Find out more here.

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Editors at Lamplight are reading now for the fall issue of this quarterly publication. Lamplight publishes “literary dark fiction” and pays $150 per story. They publish stories up to 7,000 words. The reading period for the fall issue ends July 15. For details, go here. 

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lawmanprotectionLawman Protection, Book Two in my Ranger Brigade series, is in stores and available online now.  The first book in the series, The Guardian, is also still available. Lawman Protection received 4 1/2 stars from RT Magazine,, which said “With exhilarating action and an “aww”-inspiring sweet romance, Lawman Protection is an Intrigue reader’s delight.”

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Circlet Press is looking for erotic short stories for an upcoming anthology, “Like a Spell: Erotic Stories of Wizards.” Editor Jennifer Levine wants stories stories with elements of fantasy or science fiction, with a magic user as a main character, with explicit sex that is integral to the story. Stories should be between 2,000 and 8,000 words, though the preferred length is 3,000 to 7,000 words. The deadline for submissions is August 15, 2015. Get the details here. 

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As always, feel free to share this information in this blog post with others. Please give me credit as the source and include a link back to the blog. To find out more about me and my books, check out my websites here and here or find me on Facebook.

A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.”  Eugene Ionesco

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Library Journal is sponsoring a contest for self-published e-books. There is no fee to enter and the top prize is $1,000. Enter your self-published romance, mystery, science fiction or fantasy novel. in addition to cash prizes, the first prize winner and two honorable mentions receive reviews in Library Journal and ads in the publication. The deadline to enter is August 31, 2015. Get all the details here.

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Pockets, a Christian magazine for children ages 6 – 12, is holding a short story contest. Submit your 750-1000 words short story by the deadline of August  15 for a chance to win the $500 first prize. There is no fee to enter. Get the details here. 

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Good Housekeeping Magazine wants your stories for its “Silver Linings” story contest. “Tell us about a time when a wrong turn took you to the right place or you found unexpected happiness at the end of a long road.” Your story should be 1,500 to 2,500 words. The story should be non-fiction and will be judged on the basis of originality, adherence to the theme and writing style. The deadline to enter is September 1, 2015. There is no fee to enter. The winning entrant will receive $2,000. Find out more here.

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The fourth book in my Eureka, Colorado series, Above It All hit the shelves this week. You don’t have to have read the previous books to enjoy this one — each book is designed to stand alone. In Above It All, a woman with a secret past learns to let go and embrace the future. Check it out here.  aboveitall

Chicken Soup For the Soul is seeking submissions for two upcoming anthologies: “My Very Good, Very Bad Cat” and “My Very Good, Very Bad Dog.”  “We want your funny stories, your heartwarming stories, and your mindboggling stories about all the very good, very bad, simply amazing things that your cat [or dog] does.”   The editors appreciate humor in the stories.  Stories should be true, and up to 1,200 words. Payment is $200. Be sure to check out the book topic page here for ideas you might want to explore in your story.  The deadline for submissions is August 31, 2015.

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The Writer magazine is sponsoring a Crime Fiction contest. The Crime Pays! contest runs from July 1 to July 31, 2015. Submit your 1,000 to 2,000 word short story that “explore[s] the human experience through a criminal action and a strong central character.”  Find out more here.

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As always, feel free to share the information in this blog post with others. Please give me credit as the source and include a link to the blog. To find out more about me and my books, check out my websites here and here or find me on Facebook.

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