Attention, North Carolina Fiction Writers!

It’s that time of year again–time to submit your work for the NC State/Brenda Smart Short Story Contests (for short fiction and short-short story). This year’s guest judge is Shannon Ravenel, co-founder of Algonquin Books. Unpublished stories only, from North Carolina residents (professors in the UNC system may not submit; “TAs, grad students, lecturers and adjuncts are okay, however.” Grand Prize for the short fiction category is $500; prize for short-short story is $250. No entry fee. Deadline: October 16, 2006. More information/submission instructions here.

Submissions Sought

echolocation, a journal based at the University of Toronto, is looking for “poetry, prose poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction and interviews with writers.” Unpublished work only. No simultaneous submissions.

“Pay for the Winter 2007 issue is $10/page” (my guess would be that’s Canadian dollars, folks).

This (print) journal accepts only electronic submissions. “We accept submissions year-round; however, the deadline for our Winter 2007 publication is November 10th, 2006.”

Check the Web site for more information.

(via placesforwriters.com)

Sands Hall’s "Checklist for a Scene"

Our September Practicing Writer newsletter will go out this weekend, and I’m thrilled that it will feature an interview with author Sands Hall, whose work includes the best-selling novel Catching Heaven and the play Fair Use. Sands is an experienced writing instructor and freelance editor (I’ve had the privilege of working with her in both capacities) and she has recently published an excellent book for writers, Tools of the Writer’s Craft.

You’ll hear much more about the book (and about Sands) in the newsletter, but in the meantime, Sands has been gracious enough to allow me to reprint one of the text’s exercises, the elements in her “Checklist for a Scene”:

* Where is the scene set? Does the setting convey some information about at least one of the characters?

* What activity might at least one character be engaged in that might reveal to the reader something specific about them?

* What objects, or “props,” might your characters handle? Are these items the most specific, most “telling” objects available in the setting or by the activity? Could they be interpreted on metaphoric or symbolic levels?

* What do each of the characters in the scene want? What is in the way of getting what they want?

* Explore the idea of expressing your characters’ emotional states by how they move about the space, engage in the activity, use the objects.

* Employ dialogue wisely. Make sure each character speaks distinctly–by which I mean uniquely–and that what they say lets the reader know something specific. Avoid adverbs in your attributions; use action and gesture to convey tone of voice and attitude.

* What is the source of light in the setting? Are there sounds? Aromas? Use sensory perceptions as a way to reveal point of view and setting.

* At the same time, remember that each detail needs to contribute something, needs to reveal something about character or objective/obstacle (plot) or theme.

(c) Copyright Sands Hall. Reprinted by permission.

New Work Online

This week I have two new pieces available online, and both mean a lot to me.

“Rio, 1946” is a piece of (very) short fiction. It’s actually an excerpt from my novel manuscript, The Haguenauer Line. It began as an overnight exercise (more years ago than I care to reveal!) in an Iowa Summer Writing Festival class taught by Sands Hall (expect to hear more about Sands here at the blog and in our next newsletter very shortly).

It’s especially significant that “Rio, 1946” appears online just now. The piece is rooted in my family history: exactly 60 years ago–in August 1946–my paternal grandmother’s parents, who had fled Nazi Germany for Brazil in 1940, sailed from Rio toward New York. My great-grandfather, who in a number of ways inspired my novel’s character of Max Haguenauer, died at the Marine Hospital on Ellis Island on September 1, but my great-grandmother was able to spend the next 25 years reunited with her daughter (my grandma) and became an important part of my dad’s life.

Here’s the link to “Rio, 1946.”

Second, JBooks.com has published another of my reviews. You’ll find my discussion of Walter Laqueur’s The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism (Oxford UP, 2006) here.

Online Literary Journal Becomes Paying Market

Here’s a bit of news I picked up over at Duotrope’s Digest: The King’s English, an international online literary journal publishing novellae, personal essays, book reviews, and poetry, will begin paying its authors as of its Fall 2006 issue. Pay rates will be $20/story or essay, $10/review, and $10/poem (maximum of $20/poet per issue). Check the journal’s Web site for more information.