Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) New Writers Awards Accepting Submissions

Book contests are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain credibility and exposure. Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) New Writers Award for poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction is currently accepting entries. Here is what you need to know:

  • The work must be a first published volume.
  • The work must have been published between Spring 2013 and Spring 2014.
  • GLCA will also accept galley proofs for works to be published in late spring or early summer of 2014.
  • Winning authors tour several GLCA’s member colleges to give readings, lecture, visit classes, conduct workshops, and publicize their books.
  • All entries must be postmarked no later than July 25, 2014.
  • Winning authors will receive an honorarium of $500 from each of the colleges they visit. Travel, lodging, and food expenses will be reimbursed.

The Benefits of Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) New Writers Awards

  • Credibility — This award reflects outstanding literary achievement in the judgment of a committee of scholar-critic-writers who have professional and personal commitments to excellence in literature and the encouragement of creative writing. It is a mark of distinction that confers recognition to both author and publisher in promoting the book.
  • Publicity — The winning authors’ visits to the GLCA colleges, with the attendant local promotion and publicity, should serve to stimulate sales in this Midwestern area.These campus visits expose the authors and their works to large numbers of students through readings, question and answer sessions, and possibly workshop class sessions.

For more information on submitting an entry, visit http://glca.org/programs/new-writers-award.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Character Development Tips for Fiction Writers

Back in November 2012 I participated in NaNoWriMo.  As a first time fiction writer, one of the things I found the hardest was keeping character traits straight in my head. Did he have red or brown hair? Was he short or tall? As I was working through this problem, I developed some tricks to help me keep all those important character traits straight. Here are my favorites:

1. Let someone inspire you.

Even if you are writing fiction, you can use people in your real life as inspiration. Picture someone you know or see and base your character on that person. Not only is this a good way to generate ideas and help you remember your character descriptions, it is also a great way to ensure your characters are realistic because you will be describing someone you’ve actually seen or met.

2. Keep a list of character traits.

Even if you think you know your characters well, it is hard to remember all of the details once you are well into writing your book. To avoid messing up descriptions half way through the book, keep a list of all the character traits. You can format this however is most convenient for you. Perhaps create a table with headings such as physical characteristics and personality traits. The key is to keep the list updated and to review it often while you write and edit your book.

3. Plan ahead.

Some people let their characters develop as they write the story, but if remembering character traits is an issue for you, it may be beneficial to create your characters ahead of time. Before you begin writing, envision your characters. Imagine you are interviewing them and write down everything they would tell you and you would observe. What do they look like? Where do they live? What is their temperament? What are their motivators? Their fears? Their strengths? The more you figure out ahead of time, the easier it will be to write about them as they come into your story. Be sure to keep all this information in a safe, organized place that you can reference often.

4. Double and triple check your work.

As you write your book, your character may begin to take on a different personality than you expected or you may decide different characteristics are more suiting for certain characters. It is okay to change things, and you don’t have to be glued to your list of character traits as you write. You do, however, have to make sure everything is consistent before you self-publish your book. While you are revising your manuscript, read through it while focusing on character traits. You should also have at least one other person review your manuscript because he or she will often catch subtleties you missed.

5. Hire help.

If character traits is a struggle for you, a developmental editor may be able to help. Unlike copyeditors who review your manuscript for grammar and style issues, developmental editors look for consistency and structural elements such as character development and realistic dialogue. They can point out errors in your manuscript where you made mistakes and offer advice on improving your characters.

I’d love to know, what do you do to help you remember your characters’ traits?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

What is Narrative Nonfiction?

As a self-published author, you are asked to choose a genre for your book. The easy part is deciding whether your book is fiction or nonfiction. The more difficult part is determining what type of fiction or nonfiction to categorize your book.

Basically, there are two types of nonfiction books: narrative nonfiction and prescriptive nonfiction. All biographies and memoirs are considered narrative nonfiction, while how-to books are described as prescriptive nonfiction.

Remember, if you are writing a memoir, you must be able to attest to the accuracy of the details. In addition, the story must have the same elements as fiction stories: a beginning, middle, and end as well as conflict, interesting characters, setting, etc. If your memoir doesn’t meet these standards, you may want to write a fictional story loosely based on real life. This allows you to add information to create a better story and protects you from possible legal issues.

ABOUT WENDY STETINA: Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction, or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.

How to Organize Your Self-Published Novel

There are many ways to organize a novel. Many writers follow a traditional rise and fall plot line, while other writers play with unconventional methods such as moving back and forth between time periods or points of view. While it is up to you how you decide to organize your novel, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. While outlining your story, ask yourself these questions.

1) What happens in the beginning of the book to hook my reader?

2) What will make the reader keep reading the book?

3) Is the story understandable?

4) Have I covered all the information I need to share?

As you write your novel, don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques. Also, read tons of books in your genre (as well as those outside your genre) to get ideas. Finally, always have someone else read your draft. Whether you hire a professional editor or ask a friend you trust, get feedback from a reader.

ABOUT WENDY STETINA: Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction, or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.

Balcones Fiction Prize

The Creative Writing Department at Austin Community College is committed to recognizing outstanding works of literary merit through its Balcones Literary Prizes. The program is currently accepting submissions for books published in 2011. The deadline for submission is January 31, 2012.

Last year’s winner, Linh Dinh, was awarded $1,500 and was flown to Austin, Texas for a public reading. Congratulations Linh Dinh!

For more information on how to enter, please visit http://www.austincc.edu/crw/html/balconescenter.html.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press.  In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.