writing portfolio of Stephanie Lenz

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Still 25%

I retrieved A Midsummer Tale entries for Theryn yesterday. What happens is that an editor who isn’t a judge of a particular contest gets the entries for the judge(s). Usually Theryn does this but since she judges AMT, another editor removes the identifying info from submissions and puts them into a Google Drive folder to share with her.

We had a round number and large pool of submissions so I could do some math off the top of my head when gathering the entries. Like I wrote about in my recent editorial, we had a contest entry from a female author which included a cover letter claiming we would delete and disregard the entry, which the author believed we wouldn’t like. Not true. Never true.

Beyond that, a simple count proved my ongoing statement that simply following directions gets you ahead of 25% of contest entries. With AMT 2017, 24% of entries were disqualified for being attachments. Some of the entrants who had attached entries said in their cover letters that they had found us on a contest listing site — which we love to hear — but then they didn’t read our all-caps NO ATTACHMENTS demand, maybe because they didn’t visit our site.

If we also DQed the stories that didn’t tell us whether the story was fiction or creative non-fiction, we would have between 5-10 stories left. Out of the original number of submissions, that’s tragic.

I found several entries that followed all of the guidelines, especially near the end of the submissions. This made me very happy. I love knowing that there are plenty of writers out there who were willing to jump through our hoops (as some writers have replied when receiving rejections).

All we want is for a story to stay inside the word count parameters, fit the theme, come in on time, and not have any attachments. It goes without saying that simultaneous submissions are also a no-no. Those might be “hoops” but they’re low-standing giant hula hoops, not elevated, flaming, oscillating hoops that are the size of an earring.

FWIW our entries came from all around the world. That’s something else I love to see.

Keep writing, keep submitting, and read the rules!

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Into the garbage chute, fly boy

“Oh! This’ll impress you – I’m actually in the Abnormal Psychology textbook. Obviously my family is so proud. Keep in mind though, I’m a PEZ dispenser and I’m in the abnormal psychology textbook.

Who says you can’t have it all?”

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With being sick since mid November, the holidays, and all things political and pop culture making the news, I’d forgotten about the essay I wrote for the December issue of TCLJ: Strive Toward the Light.

I knew what I wanted to write and once I got the structure set up, the essay worked. I sent it to Theryn around the 29th and hoped that her suggested changes would be few, both because of the time involved and because I hoped that it would be good enough. Her only comment was that she was glad I’d written it.

I assumed that it was the topic: one where we fall on the same side of the political divide. Then when I saw it posted, I remembered: I had written an ode to Princess Leia.

What I put in the article was true: she was my first heroine. I saw a woman on the screen, not much older than I was, who was leading a rebellion. Who looked at evil and didn’t blink. Who showed the slightest fear only when alone in a prison cell with a group of males wielding a torture device. That was the kind of girl I wanted to be.

Of course I had other heroines, some fictional (Wonder Woman) and some real (Gloria Steinem; I gave inspiring women’s lib speeches to the empty living room while pounding the coffee table) but none ever quite lived up to Leia. I was Leia for Halloween; I never went as Steinem, although that would’ve been awesome. Read the rest of this page »

#PitMad

Yesterday morning I went to Lowes for a quart of deep sea blue paint. Okay technically I’d been thinking a maroon or rusty orange but I have a weakness for oceany-indigo, especially with a name like “Salty Dog.” My plan was to redo the mudroom and make it more functional and visually appealing. The plan behind the plan was to do something creative in order to spark further creativity. I’d written 1900wc Wednesday and I’m on a slight roll right now (did another 1500wc yesterday) so I wanted something physical to counter that.

When I got back, I found #PitMad trending on Twitter so I checked it out and it was a writing challenge: pitch your novel in a tweet. I can’t resist a challenge like that. Restraints are parked firmly in the wheelhouse up my alley, especially when they involve word count limits/parameters or (better yet) character limits. Since I have all my query materials ready to go at any time, I just pulled the WS material, edited it, and sent it out:

The professional lesson to take is one that I’ve espoused before but not since I created this version of a personal website: always be prepared with your query materials,  including  a concise pitch in your mental file. Be ready to share (1) what happens in the story and (2) what the story is about.

The personal lesson here is that life happens and I haven’t queried in years because raising two kids who have special needs takes up time and energy that I’m more than happy to expend because they are spectacular human beings. But sometimes there’s a little nudge from the universe and I was lucky enough to catch that nudge yesterday.