Nancy's Books

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Guest author Tisha Morris, Feng Shui, Writing Space, Contests

My guest author today is Tisha Morris. Her book 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home (Turner Publishing, 144 pages, ISBN: 9781596525672, $9.99) explores 27 ways to make changes in your home that will also have a direct impact on your life.

Tisha lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she works as a certified life coach, energy healer, feng shui consultant, and yoga instructor. After ten years of practicing law, Tisha obtained a Fine Arts degree in Interior Design. She blends traditional feng shui techniques and interior design aesthetics with healing energy. The space undergoes a transformation and so do those who encounter it.

Tisha, how can writers use feng shui?

One of the best things about being a writer is that there is virtually no overhead. All you pretty much need is a computer and some discipline. However, it is for this reason that a designated office space is often overlooked for writers, not to mention a feng shui-ed office space.

Whether writing fiction or non-fiction, blogs or books, a writer spends her day pouring herself out, emotionally and intellectually, onto paper and into the world. It can be a very vulnerable place. This is one reason why having an office space is so important and, more specifically, having your own office space – a space that is yours and yours alone without distraction.

What can writers do to make their workspace conducive to writing?

Writers usually work from home, again, thanks to the low overhead. But, finding adequate office space comes with challenges. If square footage is an issue, then home offices become an afterthought only to find themselves sharing space with a guest room, kitchen table, or the corner of the living room. And so it takes some creative planning of a space to make a home office work for writers.

The first step is to select one location for your workspace. Ideally, this is a designated home office. But, it could be a sitting chair, your bed, or the kitchen table. Whatever the space, it is important that you make this your space. In other words, this is the place you go to write. Similar to meditation, when you use the same space, it will help you drop in quicker to the flow. Also, in doing so, you are making writing a priority.

Can you give writers one more tip?

Clear Clutter. It is imperative to have an uncluttered space when writing. Our mind is directly affected by our environment. So once you designate your workspace, then declutter it. If you designate a workspace that feels good to you, you will be more likely to write, enjoy writing, and be successful in your writing.

Hummmm. I definitely need to declutter, beginning with my desk.

Thanks, Tisha. I wish you much success with your book, 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home. Today’s blog is part of a blog tour. Tuesday, June 01, 2010 a book review by Sarah Moore and an article on writing space feng shui will be posted in Writers in the Sky Newsletter


New journal: "Published four times annually, *The Pedestrian* celebrates the variety and wonder of life, inviting readers and writers to explore more attentively the ordinary, everyday facets of their experience. We invite them to walk through familiar territory as if first encountering it. These quarterly walks take an approach different from standard intellectual publications, which race through reports, analyses, and persuasion while too often presenting multifaceted lives in mere glosses and stock narratives. Instead, we propose a leisurely saunter through our quarterly topics, equipped with an eye for detail, an awareness of the overlooked, and an empathetic curiosity about the people and the things encountered." Will publish 8-12 essays per print issue. Pays: $25-$600 on acceptance. Check the site for more information about the quarterly issues (the next deadline is April 15, 2010, for an issue with the theme of "tools"). Also look for an
announcement about the quarterly contest (which offers a prize of $500 and does not appear to charge an entry fee).

The Strongest Start Novel Competition 2010
1st Place Winner Receives $500 and a $2,500 Publishing Package from CreateSpace.
Enter a writing competition to see who can craft the most compelling start to a novel. Whether you write Romance, Science Fiction, Romance, Non-fiction, or some other genre, the only criteria is that you write a start that will keep us reading.
Over $3,300 in Prizes and Awards.

Contest submission deadline: June 8, 2010.
For more information check out

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Avoid Clichés, Contests

Clichés. Boooorrrrrrring! One way to eliminate boring text is to avoid clichés like the plague. Oops! Like the plague is a little dull from too much use. It’s as dull as a beige shirt from the All Taupe Shoppe.

A cliché is an overused phrase or expression, and we sometime use them because they pop into our heads and fit the text like a glove. The problem arises when the reader knows the next words in a sentence before reading them. Clichés drain the excitement and wonder of words that make reading fun.

Clichés often spring up in writing comparsions (fits like a glove) or describing images (dark as night). Instead of using worn-out phrases, be creative; play with words in fresh and exciting ways.

Here are a few clichés to steer clear of, uh, avoid.

Calm before the storm
Selling like hot cakes
Flat as a pancake
Quick as a wink
Higher than a kite

Try writing new beginnings or endings for each of the listed phrases. Be refreshing. Be original. And beware of clichés.


IonaMcAvoy is accepting submissions for a proposed anthology of
young adult short stories, with the title: RUSKRDYET?© This anthology will be composed of stories for the teen/young adult market where supernatural and paranormal meets technotalk.
Details at
Deadline: Midnight CST, June 30th, 2010. There will be 10 to 12 stories with word count minimum of 3500 and maximum 5000.

Woodland Press announces a new anthology: Appalachian Folklore: Dark Tales of Superstition and Old Wives’ Tales
Story Length: Up to 2500 words
Deadline: September 1, 2010
Details at

Creative Writers' Circle Short Story Contest
Finish the story! Here’s first paragraph of your story.

The city was a distant smudge of light against a dark landscape. Here, away from it all, crickets sang and the breeze rustled the tall grass. Well, they would have, ordinarily, but it was raining. The crickets were silent, and the grass too heavy with water to make a sound. Thomas waited patiently in his old truck with one knee propped against the steering wheel and his small yellow dog curled on the seat beside him. The highway stretched out to his right, to the city in one direction, and into the nothingness of the country in the other. To his left was the edge of a dense forest where poplars and a few scrubby pines competed for sunlight. The dog sat up suddenly, a whine somewhere deep in his throat. Something moved in the corner of Thomas’ eye. Someone stood at the edge of the woods, leaning against a tree. Thomas peered through the blur the rain had created on the truck’s window. The figure stepped out of the woods, moving hurriedly towards Thomas’ truck...

Deadline: June 15, 2010
Details at

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Turning Ideas into Stories, part III, Contests

This is the third and final part of my article on techniques to turn your ideas into stories. These ideas work equally well for professional writers and writers in the classroom.

Add dialog to give life to the character. Dialog should sound real, not be real. When people talk, our words usually flow freely out of our mouths and the conversation can be boring reading. We often add uh and um and get sidetracked in our thoughts. Dialog should stay focused.

Develop a plot outline based on your idea. Add conflict and a solution. The outline helps you determine where your story is going and how to get there. Use the outline to help figure out how to get the character out of the mess you’ve created for him/her.

Write the first draft. The first draft won’t be your best writing but it will be a start in developing the idea. The first draft is the starting point, not the finish line. This is the place to let creative juices flow. Experiment with the plot and dialog. You are expected to make mistakes, and lots of them, in the first draft. Follow the first draft with a series of revisions to add sparkle to the story.

Play with your idea and have fun with it. All writing has preliminary stages in which you discard some ideas and keep others. Twist and turn you idea into different plots to discover what works and what doesn’t. Give your ideas time to incubate and grow. If you’re having fun with the story, the reader will too. Figure out the methods that work for you and keep on writing. With writing and revision, you can develop your idea into your story.

Eric Hoffer Award for Short Prose
The Eric Hoffer Award for short prose recognizes excellence in writing with a $500 prize and various honors and distinctions. Works of short prose must be less than 10,000 words, previously unpublished, or published with a circulation of less than 500. The winning prose and selected nominations are published annually in the anthology, Best New Writing.
Deadline: June 30, 2010

Details at

Go! Magazine Writing Contest
$500 prize for best short story (fiction). $500 prize for best article (nonfiction).
Special prize for best entry by student writer age 13 through 18.

Go!, an online magazine for 13- to 20-year-olds published by Iowa State University’s Institute for Transportation, is sponsoring a writing contest.
We are soliciting previously unpublished work from published and unpublished authors, ages 13 and up.

Details at

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Turing Ideas Into Stories, Contests for Adult and Student Writers

Today, I’m continuing with part II of my article on techniques to turn your ideas into stories. These ideas work equally well for professional and student writers.

Choose a perspective. Who is telling the story? Try different characters to determine which could tell the story in the most compelling way. If three kids and a dog were lost in the mountains, which character should you chose to tell the story. The serious kid? The smartest kid? The funny kid? How about the dog?

Try word associations. Write the first thing you think of when you see each of these words: snowballs, moon, skunk, rainbow, museum. For example, skunk and stink could work well together in a humorous tale. So could snowballs and fight. Try associations that we would usually not associate. Moon and museum could be interesting, as well as skunk and rainbow.

Remember moments from your childhood. Did you have a special toy or an imaginary friend? Did you fear a bully? A memory can inspire a story. Don’t feel compelled to stick with your memories. Use the memories as a starting point, but not to play out the whole story. Real people shouldn’t be recognized in fictional characters. Let your imagination soar as you take the idea to new heights.

The hub of the story consists of two elements: character and conflict. The character needs to aim for a goal or experience a problem and must reach the goal or solve the problem on his/her own. Ask these questions. Who is the character? What does the character want? What is standing in the way of the character getting what she wants? When you answer these questions, you have a story idea. Other elements, such as setting, can be added later.

Next week I’ll post part III of this article.

Maximum Ride Writing Contest
Write a missing chapter in a James Patterson book.
Entry date May 31, 2010
Details at

2010 Torrance Legacy Creative Writing Awards
DESCRIPTION: Overall Topic – Creativity Expressed in Writing
Accepted Genres: Poetry and Stories

Poetry Topics:
“The Celebration Of Life”
“What Do You See In Life And How Do You Respond To It?”

Story Topics:
“Building Sand Castles”
“Crossing Out Mistakes”
“Listening For Smells”

Students in grades 4 through 12.

Entry date: We will begin accepting submissions on March 1, 2010. All submissions must be postmarked by August 2, 2010. Entries may also be submitted electronically on this web page starting March 1, 2010.

Details at

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Developing Ideas into Stories, Audience, Ask "What If", Call for Submissions for Writing by Kids, Writing Greeting Cards

An idea for a story just popped into your head. A phrase, a feisty character, or maybe a situation. The more you thought about it, the more the story played like a movie in your mind. Days, weeks, even months passed and the story wouldn’t go away. Like a pesky mosquito, it buzzed around in your brain. Sound familiar?

Writers use many techniques to develop story ideas. Some let stories mentally evolve until the characters are strong enough to come to life on paper. Others take an idea and immediately construct a character and plot. Different strokes for different folks. Regardless of how your spark originated-over time or on the spur of the moment-the job ahead is to develop it into a full-fledged account. Try these nine techniques to turn your ideas into stories. These ideas work equally well for professional writers and writers in the classroom.

Who is the audience? Is this story for a four year old or a fourteen year old? When we meet someone on the street and talk face-to-face, we adjust our speech and language to suit the audience. As writers, we have to recognize and understand the reading and interest level of our reader before we begin writing. A four year old thinks the word “underwear” is funny. A fourteen year old will probably roll eyes at the word.

Ask What if. What if a dinosaur came to lunch… What if everyone looked the same… Probe your character and plot with the What if question to develop your story idea. When your story comes to a screeching halt and you don’t know where to go with the plot ask what if. You may be surprised at the turn your story takes and the new ideas you will explore.
Next week, I’ll post part II of this article.


* Kid Spirit Magazine
KidSpirit Magazine is a unique, unaffiliated spiritual magazine written by and for 11 to 15 year olds. Our goal is to foster dialogue and understanding among kids of diverse backgrounds and traditions about values, spirituality and life's big questions. Free of advertising, KidSpirit empowers today's youth to explore deep issues and mankind's search for meaning in a spirit of openness. Each issue of KidSpirit Magazine is an invitation to look at a big question or idea from many vantage points.
Details at

*Polyphony H.S.
A student-run national literary magazine for high-school writers. Our title is a combination of the Greek term meaning many voices, and the abbreviation for High School. Polyphony H.S. was co-founded by Paige Holtzman (Latin School of Chicago ’06) and Billy Lombardo in August 2004. At that time, there was no other magazine like it in the country; that is, a professional quality, national literary magazine for high school writers, edited by high school students from public, private, and parochial schools; and there is still nothing like it in the world. Not only do our editors invite high school writers to submit their work for professional publication, but also they give editorial feedback to every author who submits a manuscript. This extends to continuing a dialogue with accepted authors in an effort to strengthen each piece.

* Amberley Greeting Card Co.
PAY: $150/card idea
Seeking humorous cards only. Submit maximum 10 ideas per batch. Send SASE for writer's guidelines before submitting. Mail to: Dave McPeek 11510 Goldcoast Dr. Cincinnati, Ohio 45249.