Monday, October 21, 2013

2013 Writing Contest Winners

Here are the winners of our 2013 Short Story Writing Contest. Our thanks to everyone who entered.

Ronna L. Edelstein – Dismissed
Vincent Guiliano – Consumed
Drew Hardman – To Endure
Mike Tuohy and Susan Zimmerman – Capisce?
TJ Perkins – Redemption
Io Kirkwood – The White Carpet
Kristin Swenson – The Flood
Chelle Wotowiec – When We Become the Photographs
Catharine Leggett – All of Me
Mike Tuohy – War of the World’s Fair
Amelia Perry - Watcher

Author bios and other information will follow shortly.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Writing Contest Deadline Approaching

August 31, 2013 is quickly approaching!

For the Eleventh Annual Scribes ValleyShort Story Writing Contest, we are looking for stories that enthrall us, leave us breathless, make us say “Wow!” and stay in our minds even weeks after we read them. You've worked hard on your story, pondered every word, developed characters so real you know them personally, and created a setting which pulls readers out of the real world. Don’t keep it to yourself, don't let it sit on your computer yearning for the light of day! Let others read it. Let US read it!

Online submissions available.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Writing Contest FAQs

We get many questions about the Scribes Valley Writing Contest. We thought we would list and the most frequently asked

Why do you have a reading/entry fee?
     Basically, we use the reading/entry fee to fund the contest. We use it cover costs such as advertising the contest and building the anthology. Any prize money awarded also comes straight from the reading/entry fee.

What are the prizes?
     All finalist stories (usually 10-15 stories) are published in our annual contest anthology. Each finalist author receives a complimentary copy of the print anthology, along with a discount on any other copies they would like. Please note, there is absolutely no obligation to purchase additional copies. We’re not that kind of publisher. From the 10-15 stories, we select the top three and award those authors with a monetary prize. The monetary prize is based on the number of entries in the contest—the more entries we get, the bigger the prizes.

What type of story has the best chance of being selected as a contest finalist?
     First and foremost: a story that tells a story. We want to be transported into the story and, when we are finished reading, we want to say, “Wow, what a trip!”
     Second, a story that has been polished as much as possible by the author. Nothing turns us off a story as fast as one full of grammatical errors. When we consider a story for publication, we have to think of the time it will take to edit it.
     Third, one that follows our guidelines. We set the guidelines for a reason: to make the story easy for us to read, and put all of them on equal footing.

You have a deadline, is there a “best time” to send in a story?
Not really. We like to read the stories for the first time as they come in. Most authors choose to enter just before the deadline, which creates a “log jam” of stories to be read when the contest finishes. That’s fine. We give all the stories equal consideration, no matter when they arrive.

How long do you consider each entry?
Each one is read at least twice with a period of time (at least one day) between each reading. We do that to make sure we didn’t like/dislike a story because we were in a certain mood at the time of reading. Notes are written in a separate file so we’ll know how we felt when we read it.

Can you tell pretty quickly if a story will be a finalist?
     Generally, yes. If it tells a good story, is presented well, and shows that the author has taken pride in writing it, it is usually marked after the first reading as a finalist. But, as stated before, it is read again later, just to be sure, and that status may change.

Does certain subject matter automatically disqualify a submission?
     Automatically, no. But, any violence, sex, or language that does not advance the story are definite turn offs. We’re all adults here, and it takes a lot to shock us, but we have to consider our reading audience. So far, in the many years we’ve held our writing contest, we have not rejected a story solely because of gratuitous (unnecessary or unwanted) content.

Any pet peeves?
     A story filled with facts that do not check out. A stickler for accuracy, I check out, to the best of my ability, every fact presented in a story to make sure it is correct.
     As mentioned before, a submission that does not follow our guidelines.
     Stories that are obviously re-worked classic tales. Originality is one of our top rating measures.

Speaking of ratings, how do you judge and rate each story?
We rate each story on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest) for six categories:
Originality – The story is original, or the author has come up with a new twist on an old theme
Story flow – The story line is easy to follow from start to finish
Spelling and Grammar – The story isn’t bogged down by distracting, hard-to-read syntax
Characters – They are built sufficiently for the reader to identify with or care about how/what they do in the story
Descriptions – The setting of the story creates a vivid mental picture for the reader
Dialogue – Realistic, easy flowing, not too formal, fits the character
     We don’t just mark each category and move on, we also write notes to help explain any exceptionally low score.
     These ratings are but a part of determining the finalists. Every once in a while, a story may have low scores but it has that certain “spark” that keeps it in the running for a finalist spot.

Once you pick the finalists, what happens?
     We like to notify the winning authors as soon as possible after all entries have been read and judged. We send emails to all the finalists at the same time, requesting a reply to let us know they have been properly notified. Once all have replied, we announce the winners on our website, blog, and Facebook page.

Then what?
We edit each story for the anthology. Simple changes, such as grammar, are made to the story without notifying the author. Major changes, however, are discussed with the author to make sure he/she agrees with the changes. The purpose of the editing phase is not to re-write the story, but to make it shine, to present it in the best possible light.
     During the editing phase, publishing contracts are mailed to the authors. Sample Contract.
     Once all contracts have been returned and the stories are edited, the anthology is put together and released as soon as possible.

And then it starts all over again for next year’s contest!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Me Grow Up? Forget About It!

My wife and I love to take day-long road trips. We get in the car with no particular destination in mind, stop at a local grocery store to stock up on “rations,” then hit the road, making decisions on which way to turn as needed. Most of the time, we are pleasantly surprised where we end up. Last weekend, however, we had a destination in mind.

My wife and I grew up in a small town in Tennessee. While we didn’t know each other until we were older, we both frequented, over the years, the same establishments in town. One, specifically, was the Blue Circle Restaurant ( It was a drive-in style restaurant, part of a small chain in East Tennessee, famed for their steamed-bun hamburgers. The restaurant was wildly popular with both the older and younger crowds in our town, but, as with most popular things, it eventually faded, then went out of business.

Sometimes we sit around and reminisce about such things from our past; how it seemed so much easier back then when we didn’t have one-one thousandth of the worries we have now. Worrying was what our parents did, and we were happy to let them do it. During one such rumination, one of us mentioned the Blue Circle, and I got to wondering what had caused them to go out of business. So I looked it up on the Internet, read about their history, and found that there is one location still open, and within 130 miles. Road trip!

I put the address into our GPS (funny how we often use modern technology to return to the past) and we hit the road. It took almost four hours to find it (mostly because I put in the wrong address and we weren’t in any kind of hurry) and we pulled into the parking lot. The distinctive sign immediately took me back to my youth. It was like seeing an old friend.

We went into the small dining room area and sat at one of the old fashioned tables and chairs, deciding not to employ the stools at the counter. As was the style of such restaurants, the food preparation area is completely open, so you can watch the employees as they prepare the food.

As we all know, memories are easily trigged by smells. I went into memory overload and, much to the mild chagrin of my wife (she’s used to me “going off”), became a kid again. I found it extremely easy to drop all the worries, all the cares, all the constraints of adulthood. I wanted to run around the dining area, spin on the counter stools until I got dizzy, laugh and joke, and generally “cut up.” I even found myself wishing my legs were shorter so I could swing them under my chair.

All too soon, it was over, every bite of my super cheeseburger and fries taken with a child-like ecstasy, and I reluctantly came back to the present to pay for our meals, and prepare for the drive home. That part, I don’t remember when I was a child. My parents always handled the paying (I think we kids always assumed food just dropped out of the sky) and the driving.

A split second after we walked out the door, I grew up and became a responsible husband and father again. What a bummer. I try to keep that youthful feeling as much as I can each day. The real world, however, does its best to defeat me in that goal. Well, the real world can go take a flying leap, because I refuse to let it control me.

I plan on being a kid until the day I leave this world, and you can’t stop me! Nanny nanny boo-boo!

So there!

Do you have a story like this? Why not fictionalize it and submit it to our annual short story writing contest? Come on, it’s easy to enter!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Novel Receives Honorable Mention at the 2013 Paris Book Festival

Lessons from the Gypsy Camp by Elizabeth Appell has been honored with an Honorable Mention in the 2013 Paris Book Festival! Amazing recognition for an amazing book! We couldn't be more proud.

Come see what the fuss is about.

 A girl...A gypsy...A murder...A choice

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Scribes Valley Publishing 11th Annual Short Story Writing Contest

Our 11th annual short story writing contest is now accepting submissions. We are looking for stories that actually tell stories, stories that grab readers by the throat and won't let go, stories that make readers sit back, wipe their brow, and--if able to speak--say, "Wow!"

We know you've worked hard on your story, pouring a little of your own soul into each word. You know your characters inside and out. You've actually lived in the setting and made it your own. It is now time to let others in. To share your work with the world.

Click here to enter the Scribes Valley Writing Contest.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Spend Money, She'll Love You For It

I’ve written about this before, but it’s such a sticking point with me, I have to vent again about Valentine’s Day. Grrrrrr…….

How can love be measured? How can you show your significant other that you love her beyond all others? That’s simple: buy her something. Not just something…something expensive. The more money you drop, the more you love her.

Just about every advertisement for Valentine’s Day bobbles has a version of: “Show her how much you care…buy her this.” That bothers me. Love is not something to be taken lightly. It’s a powerful emotion that has toppled regimes, caused an untold number of wars, caused people to take their own lives, and others to lose their minds. How can something so big and commanding be held in your hand? No problem, it fits in a tiny velvet box with a hinge that snaps open.

A guy I work with has made himself physically sick the past few weeks, wracking his brain for the perfect gift that will please his girlfriend enough to keep him “out of the doghouse” and maybe get him “a little something back.” He’s figured out the monetary amount to accomplish these goals, he just has to find the right thing to buy.

I feel sorry for him. Not for the stress he’s heaped on himself, but for falling victim to the hype, to the brain-washing diatribes of companies who try to convince us that money (or in this case, the lack of money) is love.

I don’t get it. What ever happened to simply saying, “Honey, I love you.”? Whatever happened to doing something special with and for that person—without the threat of the bottom line? Why can’t we be comfortable enough in our love to just say it?

Words can be the most powerful things on earth, but it seems even they fall under the weight of the almighty dollar. How sad.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

And How Are You?

“How are you today?”

We hear that question often, and usually our response is automatic: “I’m fine. How are you?” A simple and courteous exchange of pleasantries that is forgotten almost as quickly as it began. Rarely do we really care how the other person is, and vice-versa. Even if we are truly not “fine” we shy away from voicing it. We don’t want to bother anyone with our problems. Of course, there are some who have no qualms about laying out their issues in graphic detail, but most of us just respond, smile, and move on.

But is this a good thing? Maybe not. Maybe we should stop and run an inventory of ourselves. Maybe we should take time to ensure that we are actually fine and be thankful that we are. We’re all so eager to complain about our aches and pains and how bad our day is going, but do we ever stop and realize that we are truly doing well?

Think back to the last problem you had with your body. Toothache? Sore joint? Cold sore? Constipation? Now, think about how you felt during that time. How many times did you wish the problem was gone? How many times did you promise yourself that, once the problem left, you’d be grateful that it was over?

We tend to forget things like that when we’re better. We got rid of the problem, that’s all we care about. What a shame. Why can’t we use those memories to make our lives better right now? Why is it so bad to be happy in our fineness? How strange would it be to look in the mirror, smile at yourself, and say, “Wow, no backache this morning!”? Or, “The old feet are feeling pumped and ready to go!” Or, “Wow, what a nice smile, no cold sores on these lips!” Or, how about, “I’m feeling fantastic! No sign of diarrhea, or constipation, or bladder issues. Everything is flowing along great.”

Try it. It may not be so strange after all.

The next time someone asks how you are doing, smile, say you’re fine, and move on. But as you walk away, run through the list of problems you COULD be having, and be truly grateful that you are NOT having them at the moment. It will bring a smile to your lips. And we can all use more smiles, can’t we?

Writing tip: When confronted with the dreaded Writer’s Block, don’t dwell on the fact. The more you think about your Writer’s Block, the easier it is to find excuses to not fight it. The best cure I have found is to talk to a fellow writer about the affliction. A writer who will challenge me to power on through the block, and check on me frequently to make sure I’m still avoiding it. Inspiration is the key.

Remember back to a time when you were pounding the keyboard, turning out hundreds of glorious words a minute, the stories and characters building themselves in a frenzy of creativity; and do the same thing now. Begin typing the old standby beginning: “It was a dark and stormy night…” and then start flinging words on the screen as fast as you can. Don’t worry about grammar or syntax, just type. The Backspace button is a no-no at this time. Even if you’re turning out incoherent drivel, at least you’re turning out something!