Attention, North Carolina Short Story Writers!

Billed as “the largest no-entry-fee fiction contest in North Carolina (maybe even in the South, we suspect),” the North Carolina State University Short Story Contests program invites submissions in two categories.

The Short Fiction Category (5000-word limit, no more than 20 pp. double-spaced), awards the Brenda L. Smart Grand Prize of $500. The Short-Short Story Category (1200-word limit, no more than 5 pp. double-spaced), awards the Brenda L. Smart Award for Short Fiction of $300. Lee Smith will be this year’s guest judge.

Be sure to check the full guidelines here, among them, the requirement that you must be an N.C. resident. Deadline for submission: October 17, 2005 (postmarked).

September Newsletter Distributed

As promised in a previous post, our September Practicing Writer newsletter went out to subscribers late last week. There’s an important correction to note: our Submission Alerts!!! section includes a notice about Sarabande Press’s September Open Submission season but does not include THIS essential information: “Because of the volume of manuscripts currently on hand, we regret that the open submission period for 2005 is closed.” Visit the Sarabande Press site to read more about this. Apologies again to our subscribers for any confusion, and thanks again to the subscriber who wrote to alert me to the change in Sarabande’s policy.

And to receive each issue of our newsletter right in your e-mailbox, subscribe (it’s free!) at our website. You’ll also find the current issue posted here.

Deadlines Extended

Back in June’s issue of our Practicing Writer newsletter, we noted calls for submissions for two Cup of Comfort anthologies. Since then submission deadlines for both projects have been extended. So if you’d like to submit essays to A Cup of Comfort for Expectant Mothers or A Cup of Comfort for Parents of Children with Autism, you’ve now got some more time to do so. The new deadlines are October 1 and November 15, respectively. For submission guidelines and terms (including pay rates), visit the website.

Got Books?

If you’re a practicing writer, chances are you’re also a practicing reader (you should be, anyway!). And you may very well have lots of books around your home and/or office. Maybe you’re ready to part with some of them. Especially if it’s for a good cause.

This week I heard about a public library in Ohio that needs books. Read about it here.

For my part, I hauled some paperbacks to the used book counter at a local bookstore this afternoon, earning enough money (I hope) from the sale to pay the postage on the hardcovers I’m sending to Ohio on Monday….

It’s a (Publishing) Pajama Party

Some of you may already know about my resource e-books for writers, which I’ve published over at (for the curious, I’ve also published an article about “My Life as a Lulu” that you can read right here).

Today I received Lulu’s latest “Creator Update” newsletter, which contains an announcement about a terrific event coming September 5th-11th: Publish in Your Pajamas Week. The Pajama Program is a non-profit organization that offers warm pajamas–and books–to underprivileged kids. Lulu is going to help this program out, and here’s where you and I can, too.

As Lulu explains: “For each person who signs up for Pajama Week and publishes on Lulu while wearing pajamas, we will donate a Lulu children’s book to the Pajama Program. Help the less fortunate, and in your softest plaid flannel. It is, indeed, its own reward.”

So if you’ve been thinking about publishing content–at Lulu–but waiting for a good time to do so, you’ve found it. Check out the program details right here.

Who Cares If It’s Spelled Right? I Do!

On more than one occasion my students (and, frankly, my own colleagues and classmates) have seemed to find me too “rigid” on issues of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. But I can’t help it. I think these issues matter. I think they’re especially important for writers.

We all make mistakes. We all suffer from typos and faulty proofreading now and then. That’s not the problem. The problem is a blanket informality and indifference to the “rules” and the criticism leveled against those who try to preserve high standards rather than those for whom “standards” seems to be a dirty word. So I found myself nodding in agreement today as I read Johnny Gunn’s online article, “Who Cares If It’s Spelled Right?”

Give it a read and see what you think.