Archive for the 'Recommended Reading' Category


5 May 2017


Gordy Hoffman, the Sundance award-winning writer/director (LOVE LIZA, A COAT OF SNOW), will be available for one-hour, in-person script consultations in Denver between May 26-27, 2017 (Friday and Saturday).

Gordy will read your script in advance, and then when he’s in Denver, he will meet with you at your convenience to provide notes to you and discuss your script in depth for one hour. He will answer all your questions and give you a clear path forward on rewriting your draft, as well as answer any specific questions you might have about screenwriting and film making. The consultation is designed to support the development of your screenplay and you as a screenwriter overall.

Once you’ve booked the consultation, we will be determine the location and time that’s convenient while Gordy’s in Denver. If you have any questions regarding logistics or scheduling before you register for the consultation, please contact the BlueCat office at

Gordy has taught graduate screenwriting courses at USC and UCLA, as well as led workshops all over North America, Australia, New Zealand, Poland and England. He’s presented at numerous writing conferences, including IFP Script to Screen Conference, Lit Week at Lighthouse Workshop, Willamette Writers Conference, Script DC Conference, as well as serving as judge for the McKnight Screenwriting Fellowships in Minnesota. A proud Jayhawk, he sits on the Professional Advisory Board of the Film and Media Studies Department at his alma mater, the University of Kansas.

Gordy’s short film, DOG BOWL, had its world premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Program. He’s currently developing a feature for Abigail Spencer.

Gordy Hoffman founded the BlueCat Screenplay Competition in 1998 and remains its judge.

Note: Screenplays submitted to the workshop are not eligible to be entered into the BlueCat Screenplay Competition.

$225 (Full Registration) / N/A (Regular)


Read more at:

How to Use Backstory to Keep Readers Reading

1 July 2016

by K.M. Weiland, @KMWeilandV8374c_JaneEyre.indd

Backstory is a weapon. And just like any weapon, it can end up doing more harm than good to those who wield it without proper experience and care. But in the hands of a writer who knows exactly what it’s capable of and how to wield it to advantage, backstory can take even ordinary stories to extraordinary places.

Arguably, the most important function of backstory is its ability to hook readers’ curiosity. Forget explaining the protagonist’s past and what motivates him. Try notexplaining it. When we let readers know there’s somethingdelicious and dark in a character’s past, without telling them what that something is, we’ll hook their curiosity so deeply they’ll keep reading just to solve the mystery.

Charlotte Brontë understood how to wield the weapon of backstory as well any author. In her beloved Gothic romance Jane Eyre (which I analyze in-depth in my book Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic), she creates almost her entire plot out of the tantalizing hunt for the backstory. What can you learn from her and how can you apply it to your own novel? Start by answering the following questions.

What Is Your Backstory?

Before you can use backstory to hook readers, you first have to have a backstory. When creating your characters’ histories, look beyond just the obvious necessities of birthplace and parents. Look for secrets. Look for tragedy and shame. Look for hidden motivations. You don’t want to bore readers with tedious home videos. You want to thrill them with tabloid-worthy escapades.

Protagonist Jane Eyre’s tragic backstory is shared straight-up (for the most part). However, the story is powered by her need to uncover the shocking history of her mysterious employer Mr. Rochester. Something strange and possibly supernatural is afoot in the tower of Mr. Rochester’s Thornfield Hall, and he hints to Jane, again and again, that the mystery is all tied up in the sins of his youth. What better incentive for readers to keep reading?

How Does Your Backstory Power the Plot?

Even relatively mundane backstories can capture readers’ attention, but only if they matter to the story as a whole. An outrageous skeleton in the family closet only becomes interesting if it affects the outcome of the central conflict. Why does the discovery of the backstory matter to the protagonist? How will it help or hinder him in obtaining his main story goal?

Mr. Rochester’s history isn’t important just because Jane happens to be curious about him. As it turns out, its revelation—in one of the most enduringly and delightfully shocking moments in literature—affects Jane’s every hope of happiness and love. Readers are more than just curious about Brontë’s backstory; they care about the backstory because of how sharply it will turn the plot and affect all the characters.

What Is Your Backstory’s Hook?

Once you’ve come up with a great backstory and figured out why it is an integral piece within your main plot, you then have to artfully plant its hook. You must let readers know there is a great backstory without giving too much away. One or two solid details will often be enough to get the ball rolling, especially if you solidify their importance by making some of the characters adamant about hiding the past, just as other characters are adamant about uncovering it.

Brontë builds her hook into the very walls of Thornfield Hall. From the moment Jane arrives in the symbolically dark and dusty manor, readers sense something is afoot. The housekeeper warns Jane to stay away from the tower, Rochester himself speaks of the great mistakes of his youth, and creepy laughter wafts through the halls at night. With minimum effort, Brontë hooks her readers for the long haul.

How Can You Tantalize Readers With Clues?

After that first hook, keep the clues coming. To some extent, you can repeat some of those clues, since all you’re needing to do is keep reminding readers of their curiosity. But eventually, you’re going to have to add new information. The trick, of course, is to provide new clues to whet the readers’ appetite without giving away the whole mystery.

A good rule of thumb on backstory is to avoid sharing information until it becomes vital to the story. Clues need to be more than just breadcrumbs of information; they need to each be catalysts that drive the plot.

Brontë is one of the best at scattering her clues. She deftly adds new information, leading readers right up to the brink of the truth, only to cleverly misdirect them into believing what they think is the truth can’t possibly be right.

Why Will Your Backstory’s Payoff Matter to the Story?

Readers wait throughout your entire story to reach the truth about the backstory. You can’t afford to disappoint them. This is why it’s so important to come up with a humdinger of a backstory in the beginning. If you tantalize readers with promises of shocking discoveries only to back off in the end and say, “Surprise! The butler did it!”—they’ll probably chuck your book across the room.

Brontë perfectly times the revelation of Mr. Rochester’s backstory. The revelation arrives at the crucial Third Plot Point (at the end of the Second Act), which allows it to be the catalyst that powers Jane’s decisions and actions throughout the climactic Third Act. Every bit as important as the timing, Rochester’s backstory is just as powerful and moving as Brontë promised her readers it would be. Anything less, and we would have been disappointed. Instead, we were transported.

Powerful backstory can elevate otherwise commonplace stories to astonishing heights. Without Rochester’s backstory, Jane Eyre is just another nice tale of a poor orphaned governess falling in love with her wealthy employer. With that backstory, it has become a timeless classic that has thrilled and moved centuries’ of readers. With the right backstory, your story could do the same!

K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survivesK.M. Weilandprimarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning websiteHelping Writers Become Authors.

Good Reads by Award Winning Poet, Author – LB Sedlacek

11 April 2016

The fourth ebook in the popular series
just for poets continues with “Active Duty!”
Are you a poet?  Is it tough surviving
life as a poet?  Do people still look
at you funny when you say you are one?
Do they want you to write toasts for their
weddings or love poems?  What does it
mean to be a poet?  In this offering,
you will learn that “Yes, You Are a Poet!”
Plus more on being a performance artist,
persistence, how to refresh your poetic
skills, and use poetry to help others.
Plus there’s the bonus of more
Secret Poetry Weapons – skills to keep
your life upas a poet (no matter what
you may or may not do for a living!)
Order your ebook today (Kindle):
“The Poet’s Survival Guide 4:  Active Duty”

From Chapter 5:  Persistence:  
“Is it hard to be a poet?  Oh yes!  
How many people look at you funny
(that aren’t writers or poets themselves)
when you say you are one?  Besides the
fact, you won’t find many readers of it
anyway they will wonder just what it is
you do and then the next inevitable
question will be do you make a living
with it.  You have to live, breathe, eat,
sleep poetry to be a poet.  If you
don’t know what that means, are you
living up to your true poetical nature?

“How to Write and Make $ With Your Poetry”
17 chapters for new or established poets trying
to earn and make a living with poetry.  

“In The Trenches”
Features more of what you should know and do to
make a living or a part-time living writing poetry.  
11 chapters on how and where to sell your poems.
Includes PR tools.

“Back to Boot Camp”
The Poet’s Survival Guide series is back with a part 3, a new
offering for 2012.  In this guide for poets, get back to the basics
to sustain your life as a poet.  Improve your odds.  Create your
best poems.  Figure out which way to go:  electronic or paper.  
Branch out and get your poetry fix while creating and maintaining
new and tried and true ways to continue your career as a poet.


The Poet’s Survival Guide 1 – Book

The Poet’s Survival Guide 1 – E-book

The Poet’s Survival Guide 1 – Kindle

The Poet’s Survival Guide 2 – E-book

The Poet’s Survival Guide 2 – Kindle

The Poet’s Survival Guide 3 – E-book

The Poet’s Survival Guide 3 – Kindle

The Poet’s Survival Guide 4 – Kindle


“The EP Hunting Club: Book One The Poem Code”
by LB Sedlacek
E.P. Huntington is just a maintenance guy
for the GBT (Great Big Thing) and the other
telescopes and labs at the National Radio
Astronomy Observatory. An artist, a poet,
and a novice astronomer, Janise Birch was
all that until she disappeared. She left
something behind. Does her last poem, her
most ingenious work contain an important
message for us all? Her cousin, Darius,
his best friend, E.P., and her Astronomy
Professor are about to find out.

People don’t drive cars through buildings –
that’s what I used to laugh and say when I
would see it on TV or in the movies. A few
days before, I had seen a movie, a comedy,
where a car drove through a building and
I had said that never happens – people
don’t drive through buildings. But then,
then it happened to me. I wasn’t in the
car. I was in the building. This is my
story … “Life after Wreck” a memoir
by LB Sedlacek available on Kindle:




You can have your poems critiqued to get them in shape and
ready to go.  Affordable rates.  Poems critiqued for theme,
style, grammar, punctuation, word use, form, content, etc
to make them publication ready.

1 Poem Critique:

2 Poems Critique:

3 Poems Critique:

5 Poems Critique:

The Poetry Market Ezine
Click on Poetry Critique Service.
More critique options available.


“District of Confusion (The
Washington, DC poems)” by
LB Sedlacek

Poems written April 2012 and
they are one poet’s return to
Washington, D.C. They were written
on this particular trip back to
visit Washington, D.C. where I
lived for many years.  Poems include
“True Story:  Outside Ford’s Theatre,”
“Cups for Money, Cups for Food,”
“The Former Court of Neptune,”
“Red Brick and Cobblestone,” and
“Union Station Poem (Washington, DC).”

To order:

Also by LB Sedlacek, now on Kindle:
“The Cat and the Carroll A. Deering
and Other North Carolina Poems”


Currently accepting poetry reviews submissions of poetry
book or chapbooks.  
click on ABOUT) or email for guidelines.

New release: Adventures in Death & Romance: Vrykolakas Tales by Monette Bebow-Reinhard

23 March 2016
Adventures in Death & Romance: Vrykolakas Tales is a paranormal romance that takes readers on an adventure unlike anything you’ve ever read before.  If you’re familiar with my work, you know two things: I don’t write genre but everything is a little different; and I write novels that are keepers.  You won’t want to part with it afterward but might even read it again.
Here’s my website link for more information: 
And the book link directly to Amazon:
Visit the website:

Virginia Beach Writers’ Conference to Connect Writers with Literary Agents, Editors, and Publishers

2 May 2013

Hampton Roads Writers, Inc. (HRW), a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for writers to achieve publication success, will host its fifth annual conference in Virginia Beach, September 19-21, 2013, at the Westin Town Center hotel.  The multi-day conference will provide opportunities for attendees to hone their writing craft, pitch their book manuscripts to New York literary agents actively seeking clients, and network with writers and other writing professionals.
“We are proud of the expansive selection of workshops offered this year,” said Lauran Strait, HRW founder and President of the Board of Directors. “There’s something for all writers at the conference.”

In total, attendees will be able to choose from twenty-eight workshops, covering topics such as poetry, screenplays, fiction, nonfiction, memoir, and the business of getting published.  “Since most of the craft workshops will be interactive, we expect that attendees will depart the sessions with short works-in-progress in hand,” said Strait.

The conference kicks off the evening of September 19 when attendees may choose from four workshops.  One workshop designed to help writers pitch their manuscripts to a literary agent is expected to fill to capacity as more and more writers take advantage of the free ten-minute agent pitch sessions that have come to be a popular feature of the HRW conferences.  “Last year, of the more than seventy-five conference attendees who pitched,” said Strait, “a few were subsequently asked to submit full manuscripts.”  This year’s agents include Ethan Vaughan, from Kimberley Cameron and Associates, and Jeff Ourvan, of the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency.

Friday’s keynote speaker will be Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of the WAKE Trilogy, the VISIONS series, and the UNWANTEDS series.  Kevin Maurer, award-winning reporter and New York Times bestselling co-author of No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden will deliver the keynote on Saturday.  McMann and Maurer also will lead several one-hour workshops.

Other workshop presenters include fiction writers Clifford Garstang, Lydia Netzer, Jeff Andrews, and Chantelle Aimée Osman, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Mitch Weiss, author and Certified Public Accountant Jack Downs, and poet Jeanne Larsen.

Three writers’ contests offered as a free component of the conference allow attendees an opportunity to win cash prizes.  Anyone who registers for the conference on or before July 26 may submit a short story, a nonfiction piece, and/or a poem for competition.  Winners will be announced and awarded prizes at the conclusion of the conference on September 21.  Prizes range from $100 to $250, and it’s possible for entrants to win something in all three categories.

One of the most eagerly anticipated segments of past conferences, the First-10-Line Critique sessions, will occur again this year on Friday and Saturday mornings.  Agents and bestselling authors who make up the critiquing panel aren’t afraid to say what they think about the work and whether they would continue reading or not, and often they offer suggestions for improvement.

“Each year we lengthen the critique sessions to accommodate as many first-ten-line submissions as possible,” said Nancy Blumenberg, HRW’s Vice President and Publicity Director. “Since attendees aren’t told ahead of time if their work will be read, everyone who submitted something sits poised in anxious anticipation, wondering if their work will be picked for critique.”

A book store that features books on writing craft and the business of publishing and also books written by HRW members attending the conference will be available for attendees.

An optional networking social with silent auction will occur from 5 – 7 PM on Friday, September 20.  Proceeds from the auction will be used, in part, to provide full and partial scholarships to HRW’s Traveling Pen Series workshops and to the conference.  New York Times bestselling authors, Michael Palmer and Lisa McMann, as well as a host of other local and not so local writers and businesses, have donated items to the auction.

Businesses interested in advertising, exhibiting, or distributing samples or premiums during the conference, or donating products or services for the silent auction are welcome to contact HRW at  “The conference bags given to all attendees offer Blockbuster and Award-Winner sponsors the perfect opportunity for advertisement,” said Blumenberg.  “Their logos emblazoned on the bags will be seen throughout the conference and then beyond since the bag is perfect for carrying around books and other things.”

Early bird registration for the conference is $175 for HRW members and $215 for nonmembers and will conclude July 26.  The fee climbs to $215 for HRW members and $255 for nonmembers after that.  Conference fees include lunch both days, the conference bag filled with goodies, and a complete set of handouts from every workshop.  Annual HRW membership — which can be had for as little as $35 — confers substantial price reductions for all HRW fee-based activities.

Hampton Roads Writers, 150 members strong and growing, supports Virginia’s established and emerging writers.  For additional information about HRW or the conference, visit or email Lauran Strait at, or call Donna at  757-639-6146 .

4 Keys to a Killer Book Cover Design—a free webinar

28 April 2013

INTRODUCING the 4 Keys to a Killer Book Cover Design—a free webinar!

Your book cover is often the most powerful and sometimes the best marketing tool to help grab attention at bookstores and online. So you want to make sure you know the keys to designing a great cover.

In this free webinar, hosted by Archway Publishing, Jason Heuer, Assistant Art Director at Simon & Schuster will reveal the keys to creating eye-catching covers for fiction and non-fiction books. Whether you plan to pay a designer or do your own design, you don’t want to miss this event.


Thursday, May 2, 2013 – 12:00 pm EST

Registration Link:

Fiction Writing Bootcamp May 3-5, 2013

25 April 2013

Two Publishing Pros to Offer Fiction Writing Bootcamp May 3-5 in Santa Barbara

Two literary insiders team up to help budding authors craft novels that will catch the eye of agents and publishers. Shelly Lowenkopf and Toni Lopopolo began the bootcamps in 2010 in the Santa Barbara/Ventura area. The latest edition is “Bare Knuckles Bootcamp” which brings their accumulated knowledge and street creds as Executive Editors with Macmillan, St. Martins, Bantam and Dell, along with Ms. Lopopolo’s literary agency work, to help writers achieve their dreams of publication.
“We’re looking for a few good writers who have the stamina and imagination to reach the level of marketable authors,” Ms Lopopolo said. “We wanted to hone the skills of more talented area writers.” The camp is a three-day intensive limited to ten writers who must submit up to ten pages and a synopsis in advance to be accepted.

The bootcamp will delve into: your opening page (velocity vs. set up); refining point of view; how to avoid fatal story errors; and an area where many writers never do enough, revision, revision, revision. Other areas covered include: creating charged dialogue; how to create your character’s defining moment; how to make your story win every round; and, much more.

“So many people dive into writing without understanding that novel writing is not like a thesis for an English Lit class,” Shelly Lowenkopf said. “To be published, a writer must meet a high standard, one that is achievable IF you know where the bar is. Toni and I have been raising that bar for years and will now pass on our experience to new writers.”
Shelly Lowenkopf has held major editorial positions with Sherbourne Press (Editor-in-Chief); Dell Publishing (Director, Los Angeles office); Clio Books (Editor-in-Chief); Ross-Erickson (Editor-in-Chief); and, Capra Press (Advisory and Acquisitions Editor). He has seen over seven hundred books and hundreds of short story and essay projects through the publishing process.  Currently a freelance consultant and teacher, his clients include novelists, retired and active academics, and the humorist creator of one of the most popular television series of all time.  For over 30 years, he was a fixture at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, running his famous nightly Pirate Sessions.

Lowenkopf taught courses in short story, novel, dramatic writing, editing, genre fiction, and revision at the graduate level in one of the most prestigious writing programs in America at University of Southern California, where he was given a Lifetime Teaching Award.  He is a past regional president of the Mystery Writers of America. His most recent book, The Fiction Writer’s Companion, is a guide to terms, concepts, and forms related to storytelling.

Literary Agent, Toni Lopopolo, brings a book publishing resume that began in 1970 in the publicity dept of Bantam Books, where she helped publicize authors such as Philip Roth, Barbara Cartland, Isaac Asimov, and Louis L’Amour.

She next served as Library Promotion Director at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, until Houghton Mifflin offered her a position in Boston as Marketing Manager, Paperback Books. Her big campaigns included Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins.  When Macmillan offered Toni the title of Executive Editor, she moved back to New York City and published Judy Mazel’s Beverly Hills Diet, Elvis 56 by Al Wertheimer, among other hits. Next St. Martin’s Press made an offer she couldn’t refuse and Toni became Executive Editor from 1981 to 1990. She published Hot Flashes by Barbara Raskin and Rich and Famous by Kate Coscarelli plus Elsa Lanchester, Herself, by Elsa Lanchester, On The Other Hand by Fay Wray as well biographies of Lillian Hellman, Mary McCarthy, and many other titles. She has taught fiction and narrative non-fiction writing at Temple University in Philadelphia.

In 1991, Toni opened Literary Management and has sold books for authors Sol Stein, Lee Silber, Lillian Glass, Steve Duno, Nancy Baer, Flo Fitzgerald, Judith Smith-Levin, Howard Olgin, Jeanette Baker, Larry Seeley, Shelly Lowenkopf, and many others.

To learn more about the bootcamp curriculum or how to submit pages for acceptance, visit: or email Toni Lopopolo at

The bootcamp is presented by the Pacific Institute for Professional Writing, a California 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit,
WHAT:  Bare Knuckles Bootcamp
WHEN: May 3-4-5

TIME: Friday: 5:30 to 8:30 pm – Saturday and Sunday: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm

PLACE: Private home in Santa Barbara


So what really goes on at a writers’ retreat?

28 March 2013

There’s been a real boom in the popularity of creative writing weekends over the last few years.

There are some who say writers retreats are a waste of time, pandering to writers’ fragile egos

and encouraging people to believe they have writing talents which they, frankly, lack.

But on the other hand, many writers really enjoy them and swear that a weekend away

with other writers is a positive part of the creative process.

 The truth about writers’ weekends away By Mark Hoult:



28 March 2013

While the traditional view of formal poetry includes a very strict rhyme scheme that must be adhered to, the free verse style popularized by the great Ezra Pound largely eschews rhyme schemes altogether, instead relying on the power of the words themselves to paint a vivid portrait of the poet’s feelings. Free verse has become so widely accepted by publishers of modern poetry, in fact, that some won’t even entertain submissions of formal poetry. These are ten of the reasons why it’s okay to break the traditional mold in your own poetry, opting instead for something a bit less rigid.

Visit the website for details:

Ojai WordFest to Host “A Celebration of Words” at Libbey Bowl Saturday, April 13th Day-long event will feature authors, poets, songwriters, and Book Fair

6 March 2013
The third annual Ojai WordFest will host “A Celebration of Words” at Libbey Bowl on Saturday, April 13th. The event will be the highlight to the 8-day Ojai WordFest, which runs Saturday April 6 through Saturday April 13. Scheduled festivities will include stage readings and performances by authors, poets, playwrights, songwriters, and other word-artists. A “Book Fair at the Bowl” will be held on the lawn above the bowl featuring authors and poets with books and other literary items for sale. The event is free to the public and will run from 10 am to 5 pm. “We’re thrilled to offer a full day celebrating the written and spoken word at Libbey Bowl,” said Sequoia Hamilton, WordFest director and co-founder. “The renovated Bowl is the perfect place to welcome the Ojai community and out-of-town guests to a free event showcasing the wealth of literary talent from this area.”Hamilton adds, “We invite you to return to WordFest or experience the literary festival for the first time. As an incentive to draw folks out, we have a special hour-long performance that promises to delight the literary community and book lovers. You’ll want to stay to the very end of the day for this surprise performance.”

The family-friendly event is open to authors, poets, playwrights, songwriters and word-artists, representing all genres and ages wishing to participate. For consideration, please submit a copy of what you wish to read to Catelyn Howard at To reserve a booth at the Book Fair or share a space, please contact Kate Sexton at or register at Saturday’s events are sponsored by the Ventura County Writers Club, the Ojai Academy of Arts, Ojai Writers Conference & Workshops, Soul Centered Metaphysical Shoppe & Dome and the Krishnamurti Foundation of America.”We’re grateful for the outpouring of support from local businesses, organizations and individuals including an arts grant from the City of Ojai,” said Hamilton.

For more press information on “A Celebration of Words” at Libbey Bowl on Saturday, April 13th, call  (805) 524-6970  or email
For general information on Ojai WordFest, visit

Ideas Tap: Bursary for arts students and recent graduates – Must be United Kingdom based

2 February 2013

Saddled by student debt? Whether you’re a first-year student or a graduate, if you embarked on a BA or BMus in 2006* or later, you could benefit from having £9,000 wiped off your Student Loans Company balance by IdeasTap. 

For a chance to win, simply tell us in 100 words or less what you could offer to IdeasTap’s network in exchange for the money. It could be an idea or a service, for example “This is how you could improve your site…” or “I’ll run this Spa event for your members…” – the more imaginative, original and feasible the idea, the better!

We’ll then invite a shortlist of our favourite 50 ideas to submit further information, from which we’ll select one lucky winner of a £9,000 lump sum, paid directly to the Student Loans Company – and four runners-up, who will each receive a £500 lump sum, also paid directly to the Student Loans Company. The winner will then be required to deliver their idea with appropriate support from IdeasTap.

To be eligible to enter, you must be UK-based and have:

• embarked on a Bachelor of Arts or BMus degree in 2006 or later.

• £9,000 or more in debt (we’ll ask to see a Student Loans statement, if shortlisted).

• studied in the UK and taken out a loan with the Student Loans Company.

• a first degree – we won’t pay towards a Masters or Postgraduate qualification.

• a profile picture on your IdeasTap profile.

• intellectual property of the ideas submitted – IdeasTap must be able to use any of the ideas from submissions, shortlisted entrants, runners-up and the winner.

 Find out more and apply by 29 March at

The brief closes on Friday 29 March at 5pm and is open to IdeasTap members aged 18 and over. If you have any technical queries, please visit our Help Centre. Late entries will not be accepted under any circumstances, including technical issues – so make sure you don’t leave your application to the last minute.
*Please note, this opportunity is open to those who commenced Higher Education study in September 2006 onwards, to reflect the introduction of £3,070 per year top-up fees. – Free 10 day Trial of Poetry Contest Insider

24 November 2012

View over 1,250 poetry and prose contest profiles online

Choosing which contests to enter this year? The expert online database at Poetry Contest Insider will save you time and money. Search and sort contests by deadline, prize, fee, recommendation level and more. We don’t just list contests, we point you to the ones that will gain the most attention for your work, whether you are just starting out or are well-established. Exclusive interviews with contest judges and editors help you understand how your submissions are evaluated.

Recent honors for our subscribers include wins and runner-up prizes in contests such as Atlanta Review’s Poetry 2012 International Poetry Competition, the Connecticut Poetry Award, the Contemporary American Poetry Prize from, the Eric Hoffer Award for Independent Books, the Gulf Coast Ethnic & Heritage Jazz Festival Poetry Contest, the Inspired by Tagore Writing Competition, the Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize, the Lucidity Poetry Journal Clarity Awards, the Nantucket Directory Poetry Contest, the Nautilus Book Awards, the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and the Poetry Society of New Hampshire National Contest.

Poetry Contest Insider is published by Winning Writers, one of the “101 Best Writing Websites” (Writer’s Digest, 2005-2012). Get instant access for just $9.95 per quarter, with a free 10-day trial at the start. Cancel at any time. Learn more and start your free trial now at


4 November 2012

Attention poets! Searching for poetry markets and contest?

Then subscribe to the free monthly newsletter, The Poetry Market Ezine.

Each monthly issue features poetry markets and contests, poetry and writing news and reviews.

The Poetry Market Ezine is exclusively dedicated to poets, poetry publishers and poetry readers.

Markets and contests are all geared towards poetry only.

Affordable advertisement options and/or poem critique service also available. Publishing since 2001.



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Social Media Networking Expert Laurie Hurley to speak at Fearless Women Rising November Meetings in Ventura and Westlake Village

4 November 2012

(Ventura, CA -) – Fearless Women Rising (FWR), a new monthly training class that takes the fear out of sales and marketing for women, will have social media navigator Laurie Hurley as the featured speaker for its November meetings. Ms. Hurley is an established social media expert who partners with small business owners on how to implement these online platforms to expand their presence and drive sales. She will focus her talk on building relationships through social media, which follows the FWR method for sales. Ms Hurley was to speak in September but was rescheduled to November.

“We selected Laurie to speak because of her proven record of success,” said Linda Murphrey, Co-Founder of Fearless Women Rising. “She is helping me expand our FWR presence on Facebook, Twitter and beyond. Her techniques are simple to apply to any business’ marketing plan – offering tools to effectively expand the company’s reach. Social media can be the best relationship builder.”

“Social networking, when done correctly is a giver’s gain situation,” said Laurie Hurley. “Social media is merely the outlet(s) for a business owner to build relationships with their followers, prospects, and clients. It’s absolutely possible to become virtual friends with people in your business network. It’s human nature that like-minded people find each other on social media and forge a relationship that is beneficial to each other. The result can be anything from a new friend who enjoys the same kind of food as you, to a business partnership that was nurtured through communication online – leading to an in-person meeting or phone call. The possibilities are endless!”

“Although I cannot take credit for this statement – People buy from people they like and trust – I have seen this to be true with many of my clients. Once they overcome their limiting beliefs about social media being nothing more than posting cute kid pictures and silly pet videos, a whole new world awaits them and that is what I teach people to do – all in 30-45 minutes a day.”

Laurie Hurley has been an entrepreneur since 1998. Teaching and coaching is her passion, as well as speaking at small business seminars, women’s groups, and educational venues. A dynamic in-person networker, Laurie teaches how to balance and complement online marketing efforts with face-to-face networking, maximizing exposure to the firm’s target market and potential customers.

At the November FWR meetings, Laurie will show attendees how to take off in the fast lane, without stalling. For those attending with a laptop, they will receive hands-on experience, following Laurie’s simple directions.

FWR monthly meetings consist of a keynote speaker whose knowledge promotes positive skills or tools that FWR members can take home and start using the next day. There is an opening address each meeting by FWR founders, Kate Sexton Kaiser and Linda Murphrey, on a special skill set and how they can use it to increase sales. After the keynote there will be group exercises to reinforce each lesson, as well as a time of interactive Q&A.

The goal of Fearless Women Rising is to pass on the experience and knowledge from female trailblazers who have conquered their fears, mastered their skills and now want to share what they have learned with like-minded women who have a burning desire to be…fearless. The meetings are not designed to be networking meetings, but educational trainings on key topics that expand the sales and marketing toolkit. FWR’s target audience is entrepreneurs, small business owners, and mid to upper level sales and marketing professionals.

FWR Memberships are available that offer additional trainings, discounts on meetings, monthly video blogging and online exercises to improve skills. Fearless Women Rising holds monthly meetings focused on specific sales or marketing techniques. The current schedule of speakers and topics are:

November Topic: Social Media Made Easy (Speaker, Laurie Hurley)

November 19 
— Poinsettia Pavilion, Ventura, CA – 7 to 9 pm (combined Ventura and Santa Barbara meeting)

November 28  — Hyatt Westlake Plaza, 880 S. Westlake Blvd, Westlake Village, CA – 7 to 9 pm

Fee to attend: FWR members $25, non-members $30

For more details visit:

Media Contact:
Karen Marshall, 805-524-6970

Summer Programs for High School Students at Georgetown University

2 November 2012

Uncover your potential this next summer at Georgetown.

Explore an array of exciting subjects ranging from Law to History and the Arts.

Interested in a career in medicine? Apply to the Medical Programs for High School Students

to learn about a variety of current topics and medical breakthroughs.

Study what interests you while experiencing campus life before you graduate high school.

Visit our website for more info and to start an online application.

Valhalla Press is pleased to announce all the winners of the first Valhalla Press Literary Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Writing Contest

29 October 2012

Washington, DC October 17, 2012 – Valhalla Press is pleased to announce all the winners of the first Valhalla Press Literary Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Contest. The contest sought out the best in original short literary fiction and nonfiction work written in English.

We previously announced that the First Prize winner in the Valhalla Press Literary Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Writing Contest is Jan English Leary for her story, Mother’s Helper, a classic short story reminiscent of John Updike. Jan received $500 and her e-reader of choice, the Nook ST with Glolight.

We also previously announced that Mary Beth Ellis won second prize for her creative nonfiction piece, People Who Choose to Run, written in the New Journalism tradition of Tom Wolfe. Mary selected a Nook Color for her prize, which will be sent as soon as the new version is available.

We are now pleased to announce our list of Honorable Mention winners. Each of these pieces will appear in the inaugural issue of Ragnarok, Valhalla Press’ e-lit journal, which will be published on November 1, 2012. The Honorable Mention winners also received payment of $25 for their work. The winners are:

Loss by Jamie Derkenne

Hip, Hip Harrumph! by Mark Levine

The Atrocities of War by Jennifer Peckinpaugh

Canadian Geese in Phoenix by Davey Jones

The Leaving of Things by Jaidev Antani

The judges will provide individual feedback to each contest entrant over the next few weeks. We apologize for the brief delay in feedback – we are hard at work. Valhalla Press would like to thank all entrants for their help in making our inaugural writing contest a success.

For more information, go to

About Valhalla Press

Valhalla Press is a publisher of an eclectic list of ebooks and soon the e-lit journal, Ragnarok. Our authors include seasoned published writers as well as newly discovered writers.

10 iPhone Apps That Can Keep the Kids Occupied While You’re Stuck Standing in Line”

29 October 2012

When you’re stuck in a long line with kids in tow, the chances of a meltdown as a result of sheer boredom are high enough to cause even the most optimistic parent a moment of panic. Thanks to Apple and their almost ubiquitous iPhone, not to mention the staggering number of apps in their App Store aimed specifically at keeping kids entertained, the likelihood of those tantrums is significantly lowered. These 10 apps are all great weapons to have in your boredom-fighting arsenal, turning a potentially messy situation into one that’s easily handled.

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25 Famously Successful People Who Started Off Freelancing

21 September 2012

25 Famously Successful People Who Started Off Freelancing

We all love to hear the stories of the single mom who writes a book in her spare time and sells 10 million copies, or the kid who is discovered walking down the street who becomes an A-list Hollywood star. But for many now-successful people, their path to glory was not nearly as straight. They had to put in their time taking jobs here and there for small money and no recognition, perfecting their craft in the process and trying to keep their eyes on the prize. For all the freelancers out there, take heart in knowing these 25 sensations started out right where you are.

The Top 100 Creative Writing Blogs (Updated)

21 September 2012

The Top 100 Creative Writing Blogs (Updated)

Whether a creative writer’s heart sits with prose, poetry, or both, there likely exists an author or aspirant author out there with something to offer his or her work. And that, friends, is why the Internet stands as one of the best possible tools for today’s emerging literati. Thanks to the online input of industry pros and fledgling dreamers, today’s writers enjoy some incredible opportunities to finely-tune their craft and seek personalized advice from those who came before.

We have updated our previous list to include some pretty nifty new reads since then, and we hope you’ll find them as advantageous and informative as we do! Please keep in mind that entries are not to be read as ranked in any particular order.

48 iPad Apps That Teachers Love

16 August 2012

48 iPad Apps That Teachers Love


Apple’s iPad and other tablet computers have certainly been garnering ardent support from the edtech community.

Gadget geek teachers love the thousands of apps available to give their courses a multimedia edge, and students love

how so many reach out to different learning styles. For the connected classroom, the following stand out as either

great supplements to various lessons or essential, time-saving streamlining strategies.


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The beautiful new issue of Bare Hands is now online!

15 June 2012

The beautiful new issue of Bare Hands is now online!

It features stunning work from Malta, Ireland, Pittsburgh, New York, British Columbia and the UK.

Read it here –

We are going to start making podcasts for the journal and I would love for all of you to be involved! Simply email us an mp3 file by June 30th. It doesn’t have to be you reading it (poets can by shy) as long as it’s a nice clear recording. Include the text of the poem in the email like you would with a normal submission. See our full submission guidelines here.

Our Bare Hands Competition postcards have arrived fresh from the printers and we will be sending them to independent bookshops around the world this week – click here to read the winning entries and see where you can pick one up for free!

We have recently joined Pinterest so do follow us if you can.

Finally I would like to say congratulations to Sarah Clancy, Colm Keegan, Peadar O’ Donoghue and Afric McGlinchey who have all appeared in Bare Hands and have all launched debut poetry collections with Salmon in the last few weeks. Well done all of you!

I am delighted by how much Bare Hands has grown in such a short time and I’d like to do as much as possible to keep promoting our poets. If any of you have poetry collections coming out, or any other kinds of lovely writing news, do let me know and we’ll mention it on Facebook and Twitter.

Many thanks and best wishes,

Kerrie O’ Brien

Find Bare Hands on Facebook

Twitter @BareHandsPoetry

8 Apps Every Writer Should Have

22 May 2012

If you’re tired of your Moleskine and think that Microsoft Word is for laughable tech dinosaurs, consider going mobile with your writing. With non-verbal communication becoming the norm in today’s fast-paced, tech-forward world, there are many new tools designed to help you get the most out of your writing time, and, indeed, your words. If you’re struck with inspiration when you’re on the go, at least one of these eight essential apps should be available at your fingertips. Beware, wannabe writers! Once you’ve downloaded any or all of these tools, you’ll have less of an excuse to say that you “just can’t find the time” to write. For professionals and amateurs alike, these eight mobile-friendly writing apps are great assets to your toolkit. 

Visit the website for more info:

32 iPad Apps That Writers Just Love

20 May 2012

Today’s writers benefit from an incredible assortment of digital tools from which they can draw inspiration and productivity. Although some writers prefer to stick to old-fashioned pen and paper or even typewriters, there’s a vast population of others that are happy to take advantage of all the new tools out there. Some of the brightest of these tools can be found on the Apple iPad, and we’ve highlighted 32 of them here. Whether you’re looking for a place to scribble ideas, organize plot lines, or just find your zen before sitting down to write, these apps have got you covered.

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25 Inspiring Biographies for Aspiring Writers

8 March 2012

Before setting off in pursuit of literary and intellectual greatness (or at least goodness), it behooves the journeyman author to learn a few things from those that came before. Don’t get bogged down in fantasy. Take the time to read up on how successful writers — no matter their chosen genres or mediums — generate ideas and inspiration, process them, then bestow them life on paper or screen. Painting teachers often request their students to copy old masters in order to learn techniques they may uniquely, creatively build upon as their own visions begin emerging. And the exact same strategy works beautifully for the written arts in kind.

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20 Acclaimed Authors and Their Unique Writing Rituals

30 January 2011

Most literary types agree that a definitive, personalized ritual performed before, during or after a writing session forms one of the absolutely essential components of creating innovative, effective works. These obviously vary from author to author, and even similar methods come with their own unique variances. Regardless of whether or not one hopes to pen a future Pulitzer winner or simply finish his or her homework, forging a comfortable writing routine serves as an excellent means of bolstering creativity, relaxing, clearing the mind and — most importantly — encouraging productivity. While some of the following strategies may not exactly work for everyone, they still provide a keen insight into some of the literary sphere’s most notable, impressive minds.

  1. Victor Hugo let it all hang out.: According to The New Yorker, the celebrated author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame forced himself to write and stave off procrastination by stripping down. His valet was instructed to find the sneakiest hiding place possible and place his clothing inside. Hugo hoped this ritual would prevent him from leaving home and encourage tighter focus on the task at hand.

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