Thursday, January 3, 2019

Congratulations! #IWSG #Anthology

IWSG Anthology Contest Winners
The big moment everyone has been waiting for – the announcement of the IWSG winners. Here are the stories and authors that have been selected for our fourth anthology:
Oddly Suited by LG Keltner
Sea of Sorrows by AV Brown
Behind the Catcher’s Mask by Jennifer Lane
A Diver’s Ball by Angela Brown
Fearless Heart by Deborah Solice
The Dark Charade by CD Gallant-King
The Cog Prince by Elizabeth Mueller
Flower of Ronda by Myles Christensen
Remedy by Chelsea Ballard
Charleston Masquerade by Carrie-Anne Brownian
The top story has the honors of being included in the title. LG Keltner’s story came out on top! The official title of our next anthology – Masquerade: Oddly Suited. Congratulations, LG. (She was also in the top spot for our first anthology, Parallels: Felix Was Here.)
The IWSG Admins spent many hours reading the entries and fourteen were sent to our special judges. We certainly wish to thank them for taking time away from their own work to read the entries:
Elizabeth S. Craig, author
Kelly Van Sant, agent at Red Sofa Literary Agency
Elana Johnson, author
DL Hammons, Write Club founder
S.A. Larsen, author
Kristin Smith, author
Gwen Gardner, author and previous IWSG anthology winner
Look for Masquerade: Oddly Suited late spring!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

How to #Win a #ShortStory Contest!

How to Win a Spot in the IWSG Anthology Contest
by Gwen Gardner

I’m always impressed by the quality of writing in the Insecure Writers Support Group anthologies. To me, it’s a prestigious compilation of stories by respected members of this growing community of writers. When I won top spot in the third anthology, Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime, I was sure someone made a mistake. I mean, I write cozy mysteries. Cozies are gentle reads. They are clean, low key, and low action. Any violence happens off stage and sex is never mentioned.

So how did a cozy mystery story win the top spot in the anthology? First, I went back to the basics that every writer knows: hook, strong verbs and dialogue, quirky characters with flaws, a grounded setting, show rather than tell, and edit, edit, edit. We all know the drill.

I always knew the competition was tough. That much was apparent once I’d read all the stories in Tick Tock. But now that I’m a judge of the next IWSG anthology, it’s become even more apparent. The margin of excellence is so narrow between the remaining competitors that it’s nearly impossible to choose a favorite. As a judge, how do I pick my top three favorites when they all deserve to win? What is that extra something you can do that gives you the winning edge?

Go back to the guidelines:
  1. Keep your eye on the theme and genre. In Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime, the theme was time/clock and the genre mystery/crime/thriller. When I won, the title I submitted to the contest was, A Stitch in Crime. It’s a play on the old saying, “A Stitch in Time”. So you can see I used both the time theme (through a play on words) and the genre (crime) in the title.
  2. Continue the theme throughout your story. In my story, time was running short to reunite a little girl with the nun who raised her.
  3. Come full circle by tying the ending of the story to the beginning. In the beginning of my story, my main character was learning how to cross-stitch. Towards the end of the story, a cross-stitch panel ends up being the clue that solves the mystery.
I hope these tips help. For myself, I continue to study the writing craft, and I’m always reminding myself of the basics. Over on my Pinterest page, I have over 2000 pins separated into 37 different sections that are chock full of everything writing related, from inspirational quotes by famous authors to detailed how-tos on the craft. Check it out!

How do you stay up on the writing craft?
Any tips or tricks you use?

Gwen Gardner’s story, A Stitch in Crime, won the feature spot in the IWSG Anthology #3. She writes clean, cozy, lighthearted mysteries with a strong ghostly element. Since ghosts feature prominently in her books, she has a secret desire to meet one face to face – but will run screaming for the hills if she ever does.

She thinks there’s nothing better than a good mystery (being an excellent armchair detective herself), unless it’s throwing a ghost or two into the mix just to “liven” things up. Don’t worry, though. Ghosts may be difficult to keep in line, but they’re harmless—mostly. And it turns out they’re pretty good sleuths, too.

Gwen adores travel and experiencing the cultures and foods of different countries. She is always up for an adventure and anything involving chocolate – not necessarily in that order.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Wanted: More Heroes!

Heroes Wanted!
by Tyrean Martinson

I think anyone living in the world today would have a tough time missing the rise of superheroes, heroes, and anti-heroes in film, media, and fiction. Every story must have a protagonist, but lately, it seems as if every story must have a HERO.

Why do we love heroes so much?

Because we need them. According to an article by Psychology Today, heroes “improve our lives.” In fact, the article goes on to state that heroes help elevate us, heal us, nourish our relationships, show us how to transform our lives, and show us how to become heroes ourselves.

Whether we love everyday heroes (civil rights defenders, first responders, those who serve in the military, the kind of person who stops to help someone load their groceries into the car in the rain), or we love superheroes (Captain America, Thor, Wonder Woman), or we love anti-heroes (Captain Jack Sparrow, Hamlet, the Guardians of the Galaxy), they help us see moments of good in the world, they help us see that our troubles can be overcome, and they inspire us to become heroes in our own lives.

And, there are many types of heroes to choose from, going beyond Joseph Campbell’s archetype of the hero. I searched hero types online and found “6 Types of Heroes You Need in Your Story,” along with “Romantic Heroes,” and huge lists of hero types from various websites focused on comic book and fantasy fiction.

Just to name a handful here, there are: Every Man/Woman Heroes, Prodigy Heroes, Un-Heroes and Anti-Heroes (not the same), Misfit Heroes, Perfect Heroes, Best Friend Heroes, Charmer Heroes, Swashbuckler Heroes, Rebel/Bad Boy Heroes, Lost Soul Heroes, Warrior Heroes, Grizzled Old-Timer Heroes, Orphan Heroes, Wanderer Heroes, Jester/Fool Heroes, Tragic Heroes, Martyr Heroes, Sovereign Heroes, Caregiver Heroes, Explorer Heroes, Magician Heroes, and Creator Heroes.

On November 12th, we lost a great Creator Hero from real life: Stan Lee, the creator of Spider-Man, Black Panther, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, and The Avengers. His life’s work and legacy has inspired artists, creators, and storytellers all over the globe, and entertained millions of people. He will be missed.
courtesy IMDB
As a kid, I needed to see how Bruce Banner struggled with his Incredible Hulk anger. As a teen, I needed to see how the X-men dealt with prejudice on a daily basis. And, as trope-filled and cheesy as it may sound to many today, I still need to hear, “With great power comes great responsibility,” from Uncle Ben and Spider-Man. It still rings true for me and I’m so thankful Stan Lee created these flawed heroes.

I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain people, you’re doing a good thing.--Stan Lee, The Washington Post.

Each of us has unique strengths and abilities to share with the world. We each have heroic potential. A hero doesn’t have to work alone. A hero can collaborate with other heroes to create a better world, to show the way to a better future.

So, what kinds of heroes do you love to read about or see on film?
If you are a creator, what kinds of heroes do you like to write about?
What kind of hero are you?

Daydreamer, writer, teacher, believer, Tyrean Martinson lives near the Puget Sound with her husband and daughters. With her B.A. in Ed. and English, she teaches writing classes to home-school teens and she writes speculative, contemporary, poetry, experimental hint fiction, and writing books.

Tyrean is currently writing about heroes who are both blessed and cursed with super-powers. She has written about fantasy heroes, sci-fi heroes, and real-life heroes. She strives to be a teacher-hero and a creator-hero in real life. Her short story, “Of Words and Swords” won a spot in the Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life IWSG anthology.

To read the flash fiction story that started Tyrean’s journey into a super-powered world, check out “Seedling” for FREE on Smashwords, Nook, Apple, Google, Kobo, and Overdrive.

Connect with Tyrean here:
Blog | Twitter | Facebook

If you’re looking to read about a number of different heroes, check out the IWSG Fiction Anthologies.

Heroes Lost

Of Words and Swords by Tyrean Martinson