Monday, January 4, 2010

Here We GoOOoooOoo!

Here we go, a brand new year! I have lots coming in 2010, personally and professionally. Here is one idea I thought I'd float to all of you (and your friends). If the interest is there, I'll go forward with it.

I'm thinking of doing a contest. You know the deal about contests is they can be big money makers -- the entry fee. Writer's can also bust their budget by indiscriminately entering tons of fee requiring writing contests. It is worth the fee if you win a notable contest and there are some really good ones around -- this isn't that.

Here is what I'm thinking (let me know if there is any interest). These aren't the official terms, just floating ideas.

Genre: Fiction, any genre, but has to be written in first person/present tense. Never done that? Well, it is good practice.
Topic: I haven't decided if I'll give a topic or a first line or what (I'm making this up as I type it, can you tell?) Probably none.
Word Count: At least 500, not more than 550.
Two categories: One for published writers and one for non-published writers.
Fee: none.
Limit: One entry per writer.

Format: Standard ms format in either MS Word or WordPerfect docs.
Deadline: Not sure. I might make it due so I can post the winners on my 300th blog post or maybe June (Just pulled June out of my hat???).

Judges: I have to talk to people about this. Depending on how many writers enter, it could be a lot of work and they ain't getting paid, unless having their name all over First Draft counts for anything.

Prize: How about $50 USD to the winner of both categories. I'll see if Cactus Rain can pay for it because, ya know, I'm a starving writer too.

The catch: Well there isn't a catch. There is no anthology being done with the submissions. No publishing contract forthcoming. Probably won't publish the winning piece on my blog at all because that screws first rights to unpublished pieces.

So spread the word in your blogs, tweets, and email lists among your writer friends. Use this link:

If there is enough interest to not make me look like the Village Idiot AND I can get judges for it, then we'll go forward. The way to show interest is to write in the comment section that you're game for the challenge.


  1. Good. There's one. Anyone else? Also, if you'd rather be a judge, let me know.

  2. Sounds interesting - let me know how I can help.


  3. Just wondering, do you think it should be more like 1,000 word limit so you can really get rolling before you have to stop?

  4. Carrie, you can write a short story... I'm not going to be one of the judges, unless there is a tie, so even if you know me, you can enter. Everything is on the up and up. I think we might also comment on marketability...who knows. Need more people to have an interest first. Oh BTW, you can share it with your writing circle friends who did the anthology last year. Everyone is welcome to participate.

  5. I think it'd be fun. Is the 550 maximum a "hard" limit? It might be tricky writing something between 500 and 500 words (or is that part of the contest)?! keep us posted, Russ

  6. Hi Russ! Glad to hear from you. What do you think of 1,000 word limit that I posted in the comments above? No, it isn't the kind of contest where submissions are excluded if they are one word over the limit. I'm just floating ideas right now. But I would certainly say that if word 1,000 was in the middle of a sentence, go ahead and finish the sentence.

    The reason I don't want the works to get too long is I want them well read and the judges (people I haven't asked yet) are not compensated for their time.

  7. Hi
    This sounds like fun but is a cash prize nessesary? Why not charge a submission fee and publish the winners in an antholgoy to launch Cactus Rain? The winning entries could all get a copy of the book? Other indie publishers have done similar to this with submisson fees of £7.00 per submitted story via Pay Pal.

  8. Hi Denise,
    Good input. Other people might have the same quesions, but won't ask.
    I think I'll give a cash prize, if I can afford it. I'm not sure what you out of country people are going to do with USD.
    Honestly, I don't want the bookkeeping trouble of charging a fee. That gets me into all kinds of sales tax questions for the people in Arizona - our arts are taxed differently than yours in the UK. AND most important, I don't want anyone to not enter because of a fee.
    As far as an anthology, there would have to be a strong push to get me to print one. I'm more concerned about using up first rights in the event that someone decided to continue writing and make their entry into a novel after the contest. Copyright and first rights are sacred to me.
    Cactus Rain has four authors and it hasn't even launched! I must get the website copy written!
    So, are you going to enter a piece or help judge, DK?

  9. Hi Nadine

    Thanks for emailing me about this :-)

    I'm happy to be a judge if you like, as long as it's not too time consuming. Maybe if there are lots of entries you could prepare an initial short-list yourself, then ask the judge/s to choose the winner/s from this. Just a thought.

    Cash prizes always attract more interest. I wouldn't worry about putting off non-US writers. The mighty dollar is welcome the world over ;-)


  10. As requested, I've also posted about this on (see the link from my name, above) and via Twitter.

  11. I agree with DJ--let's not make it about money, but for the writing itself. Off to tweet it.

  12. Thanks Nick! I'll probably have two sets of Judges, one for experienced (published) and one for novice (soon to be published) writers, so that it isn't too much work. Also, I can make the announce date reasonable for the entries we have.

    Thanks for the mentions too!

  13. Ivana, darling, it IS about writing. Oh yeah, chica. I have an idea of how to make the entries 'blind' and accessable only to the judges on a hidden page on my website (I should probably discuss this with my web designer, shhhhhh!)

  14. I'll definitely send in an entry.

  15. I'd be interested. I think 500 words is fine. Jo

  16. I like your idea a lot, Nadine, and would probably enter your contest.


  17. I would offer to judge. I would enjoy it. I'm also not keen on writing short pieces.
    As for prizes - I do think that for the amateur entry first prize of one of your books or a novel by one of your Cactus Rain writers and then if the quality and number of entry is good enough published in an anthology. My first published story was as a result of a competition, I then bought almost everyone I knew a copy for Christmas. You can't lose out. You don't need an entry fee.
    Can you get a quality judge for the published writers competition?
    Maybe tie in the competiton with the launch of Cactus Rain
    Best wishes

  18. Great idea, Nadine

    Sounds like a fun comp.



  19. I'm in! I love the chance for some good writing exercise.

    Great idea BTW!

  20. I love contests! Count me in :)

    I prefer a higher word count, but I'm game either way.

  21. Oye, I have never had so much trouble giving aways $$$. You guys need to take lessons from my kids.

    I think I'll let the pannel of judges help me select the word count. I know it won't be more than 1000 or less than 500. Although it won't have to be 'zactly the number we post.

    It is a good writing exercise to meet a target, but here, I'm after them most awesomest writing I've ever seen.

    By next Monday, I'll have more info. It looks like there is interest, at least among unpublished writers.

  22. Leah, Dale, Katie...welcome. (Welcome to everyone else, I didn't mean to be rude just because I know you.)

    I won't be a judge, so no matter if I know you or don't. I think I have an idea how to make the entries blind for the judges. Did I already say that here or over on My Writers Circle (writing forum)? Click on Nick's link to find the page at MWC.

  23. Two things: 1) Hey thanks for following me; 2) Some have mentioned Cactus Rain. This (if I did it correctly) is what we are talking about. It launches in a couple of months.

  24. OMGosh...I did a link in a post!!!

  25. Awesome idea Nadine! I'm in!
    I love writing short stories, and i'd love to see what I could write for this challenge :)

  26. A couple of other points: My January Newsletter (see it on my website) is just over 1,000 words. Just for a reference point.

    While you're there, look at how the newsletter page is set up with the list of links to the newsletter pdf. My web designer says we can set up a page like that for the contest submissions. The link will only be available to the judges. Cool?

  27. Hi Nadine ~ You bet, I'd love to be a judge in the contest. Since my forte is new writers, I'd prefer reading the stories from the as-yet unpublished crowd. Thanks for thinking of me!

  28. We are getting some judges lined up. Nick in the UK, Glyn in France, Anita here in Phoenix Arizona (USA). I've ask some other industry professionals and I will email my extraordinary group of beta readers. We have some interested writers to go with the growing number of judges. That give us so far, editors, authors, and readers as judges...we are getting closer to being awesome! Thanks everyone!

    I'll add another post on the contest on next Monday. Keep adding comments here.

  29. Oh wow, I was just thinking, be sure not to miss someone...And Joy in the east valley of Phoenix.

  30. I'm in...but 500 words...oh that's SHORT =) I do poems short like that...prose...hmmmm...I'm game! OH...I know exactly what I can submit!

  31. That's a wonderful idea Nadine! I have been out of the loop and not writing that much lately. I will do this if I can. :) It sounds great!!! *HUGS*

  32. Mary E said she will judge too! Hello Angela and Kelly and Peggy!

  33. Nadine -

    Sounds like fun. I'm sure I can come up with something.

    Don86usa -

  34. Hello Don...
    Good to hear from you again. Interesting site you are starting. Keep me posted.

    I'll post more (better?) details on the contest on Monday. Stay tuned.

  35. Hi Nadine,
    I'm a new writer (real new!) I would love to enter your contest. I find limited word short stories help to keep my brain active and the challenge of 'Editing Down' is a wonderful exercise.
    Maybe a competition later on the 'First paragraph of a short story limited to about,say, 100 words? That is a real challenge.

    Can't wait to get started.

  36. Not sure how to post with my name. Mine was the previous post.

    Anne Sully

  37. Hello Anne and welcome. You'll soon see that I'm not very geeky, but try the "comment as" window below the post comment window. Look for one that you have an account, or sign up for a google account. Anonymous works too. Feel free to post your url. Just about anything goes on this blog. (I mean that in a nice way.)

  38. I'm lazy and 500 words sounds good to me!
    Count me in!

  39. Is a newbie Aussie allowed in on this comp? Would love to join in, just for fun!
    Jessie H

  40. Yes, Jessie, join it. This is contest is open world wide, unless prohibited by local laws...especially for minors. Simply email your submission when you're finished as indicated above in the link in the sidebar on the top left.

  41. Is minor the same as young at heart? would be nice if so! Will do, thanks for that, and for the WONDERFUL idea x o

  42. Can't wait to see what your wonderful idea is.

  43. Sounds good Nadine. Will promote a bit on The Write Idea forum, they're a very friendly and active bunch.

    helenwhittaker dot net fwd slash phpbb2

    Doug :)

  44. Doug, Grand - thanks. I'll have to pop over and visit the forum.

  45. I'm interested! I'm a new writer too :-)


  46. Johnny, now would be good. Click on the cactus at the top left for all the info. Thanks!

  47. I am interested as well.

  48. Great, Robin! Click on the cactus link at the top left of the sidebar and follow the instructions. Need to get it submitted today...depending on what part of the world you are located.

    The more the merrier!