Flash Fiction Writing Contest – Submit

Flash Fiction Writing Contest…

Submit now!

the clock is ticking

Illustration by Clarisa Ponce de Leon

A few weeks ago we introduced the first ever flash fiction writing contest at NovelNook.com. The submission period for entry ends today at midnight. You still have time to pen that fantastic story.

Here are the official guidelines, once again

I challenge you to write a flash fiction story that incorporates these two elements: a victory at work and a defeat at home.

These are the rules

  1. It must be 1000 words or less.
  2. It must incorporate a victory at work, and a defeat at home, into the plot.
  3. It must be edited to the best of your ability.
  4. It must be submitted by Midnight, July 15th, 2013.
  5. You must submit it to, kentdufault@yahoo.com.
  6. You must submit it in the body of the email – not an attachment.
  7. You must accept the results of the contest without complaining.

These are the prizes

  1. The winning author will receive a free cover from my graphic designer wife for the writing project of their choice.
  2. The winning story will also be published on the  NovelNook.com blog on August 19, 2013.
  3. The winning story will receive a critique and an explanation as to why I chose it as the winner when it is published on the blog.
  4. The winning author will receive an Amazon Gift Card valued at $20.00 USD (for USA Amazon only)
The Fine Print
  • The cover must be redeemed by December 31, 2013.
  • This is for an electronic Ebook cover only.
  • The book cover will be produced to the cover standards as dictated by Amazon.
  • The prize includes design and illustration. If photography is requested, you will be responsible for purchasing the usage rights.
  • You will get three consultations with the graphic designer via email: An initial interview to convey your ideas, an initial proof round, a second proof round. After that, she delivers, and you take what you get.
  • All rights to your entries remain with you!! We’re asking for nothing but a good (well edited) story and first publication rights for the blog.

Second Place! Will be published on the NovelNook.com blog on August 26, 2013 and will receive a critique by me.

Here is a sample cover that my wife produced for me. I will be publishing this book on Amazon in the near future.

Bellakentuky

Hurry! Submissions end today at Midnight.

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “Hopscotch”, by Julio Cortazar.

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.

 

NovelNook Writing Contest – Sponsored by Bellakentuky

Ramblings and a Writing Contest

“When life gets busy, sometimes you just got to strip down to your tighty-whiteys and jump into the pond!” – Kent‘s Grandma

Life has been busy for me over the last few weeks. The result of that is this post – I’m titling…

Bellakentuky’s First Ever

Super Fabulicious Flash Fiction Writing Contest

But don’t let the ridiculous title fool you!

There is some really good food for thought in this article!

I hope it will inspire you!

Today’s post is going to be an exorcism (of sorts) from me, and a writing challenge for you!

Ramblings and Challenges

Photograph by Diana Robinson

In the past week, I had two, very distinct, and quite different, memorable moments occur in my daily life. One of them was a triumph and the other an utter defeat.

The Triumph

I have worked as a photographer for the same company for over ten years; first as the general manager at two of their locations and then later as a freelance photographer. The job has always entailed (among numerous other things) sales. When I was a younger man, I would have bet money that I would never be good at sales. But history has proven me wrong. As it turns out, I’m pretty darn good at sales. What we sell are family photographs (sometimes just their children) – portraits done on the beach here at Hilton Head Island. While this product definitely has intrinsic value, you would think that there would be a cap as to how much someone might spend on this particular product.

Bellakentuky

Photograph by Kent DuFault

Last week, I had the biggest sale of my career. It was the second largest sale in the company’s history. I’m not going to tell you how much it was, but I will tell you that it was in the five figures category. This client, and the ensuing sale came out of nowhere: they made their appointment late, had no lead time to prepare, and they almost made a decision to cancel.

But they bought, and they bought a lot. I kept waiting for the deal to fall apart, for them to change their mind, or for the credit card to be declined. These are all things that have happened to me in the past. But nothing happened. They made their decisions, their credit card went through, and when they left our office…

I was shaking, and I felt victorious!
Ramblings and Challenges

Photograph by Laura Gilmore

The Defeat

My defeat came the very same day. About six weeks ago, my wife and I adopted a puppy. She’s a cute little thing: part Chihuahua and part Boston Terrier. She’s smart. We worked with her constantly on the housebreaking, and she really seemed to be getting it. We slowly allowed her more and more leeway around the house.

Then we discovered it. She had been going in the house all along, but hiding it. What made this particularly defeating was the fact that I knew, that she knew, it was wrong. She was hiding it. Hiding it in part of the house that we rarely visit. It hurt me deep down because I’d had so much confidence in her.

Bellakentuky

The puppy is in jail. Photograph by Lisa Brandt Heckman.

Well, it’s back to square one with her.

She’s now once again confined to her pen where if she chooses to be sneaky, she has to live with it.

The Challenge

I challenge you to write a flash fiction story that incorporates the two above elements: a victory at work and a defeat at home.

These are the rules

  1. It must be 1000 words or less.
  2. It must incorporate a victory at work, and a defeat at home, into the plot.
  3. It must be edited to the best of your ability.
  4. It must be submitted by Midnight, July 15th, 2013.
  5. You must submit it to, kentdufault@yahoo.com.
  6. You must submit it in the body of the email – not an attachment.
  7. You must accept the results of the contest without complaining.

These are the prizes

  1. The winning author will receive a free cover from my graphic designer wife for the writing project of their choice.
  2. The winning story will also be published on the  NovelNook.com blog on August 19, 2013.
  3. The winning story will receive a critique and an explanation as to why I chose it as the winner when it is published on the blog.
  4. The winning author will receive an Amazon Gift Card valued at $20.00 USD (for USA Amazon only)
The Fine Print
  • The cover must be redeemed by December 31, 2013.
  • This is for an electronic Ebook cover only.
  • The book cover will be produced to the cover standards as dictated by Amazon.
  • The prize includes design and illustration. If photography is requested, you will be responsible for purchasing the usage rights.
  • You will get three consultations with the graphic designer via email: An initial interview to convey your ideas, an initial proof round, a second proof round. After that, she delivers, and you take what you get.
  • All rights to your entries remain with you!! We’re asking for nothing but a good (well edited) story and first publication rights for the blog.

Second Place! Will be published on the NovelNook.com blog on August 26, 2013 and will receive a critique by me.

Here is a sample cover that my wife produced for me. I will be publishing this book on Amazon in the near future.

Bellakentuky

Book cover by Clarisa Ponce deLeon

I look forward to reading your stories!

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “Unexplained Mysteries of World War II”, by William B. Breuer

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.

How to Perform a Clichéctomy – or – How Not To Write the Obvious

Don’t Write The Obvious!

don't write the obvious

Stating the Obvious. Photograph by macca.bsch.au.com

Over the weekend, my wife and I attended a family function in Florida. As we drove down Interstate 95, my wife asked, so what did you do this morning? (I was out of bed several hours before her.)

I told her, among other things, that I’d had my morning coffee, and I did some slush reading for Every Day Fiction.

“How did that go? She asked.

“Not so well,” I said. “I read five stories and four of the five had the same story-line. I don’t know why authors seem to have so much trouble coming up with ideas that are new and interesting. The stories are filled with cliché situations and predictable subject matter.”

“Like what?” She asked. (I could tell she was going into literary mode.)

“Well today, the four similar stories were about lost love. And two of the four took place in a coffee shop. And three of the four were primarily the MC‘s thoughts with little or no action, Two of the four also involved a dream sequence. And all four ended with the same outcome; the MC is forlorn over their lost love.

don't write the obvious

Photograph by perfectionlove99.blogspot.com

My wife raised her eyebrow; but didn’t say a word.

“I don’t get it!” I rambled on. “With so much to write about in this world, why do people keep writing about the same thing over and over.”

“Like what?” She stretched her bare feet out on the dashboard.

I thought quietly for a moment. “These are probably the top four repetitious stories that come through Every Day Fiction: lost love, a confession (to a counselor or psychiatrist), an alien invasion, or a story that ends up being a dream.”

“Maybe you should write an article on this for NovelNook?”

“And say what? Quit writing these stories. They’re old and repetitious, and boring!”

“People will never stop writing about subjects that appeal to their heart. Obviously, those subjects are very appealing. That’s why they’re in the minds of writers. Maybe you should write about the concept of approaching these subjects from a new angle? Keep the subject but remove the clichés. Wouldn’t you find that more appealing?”

“That’s interesting thought. What did you have in mind, oh wifey pooh, master of my mind?”

“This conversation reminds me of the story, “La lluvia y los hongos“, by Mario Benedetti. Do you remember that one? I read it to you once.”

Don't write the obvious

Mario Benedetti

“Wasn’t that, The Rain brings the Mushrooms?”

“Do you remember the story?”

“Refresh me please.”

“It’s a short story, and it incorporates two of your clichés; but the story is told in a very different way. So different, that you probably wouldn’t even realize that the subject is cliché.

The story starts with a man talking  to a one-night-stand about his friends. He’s just picked her up from a bar. Benedetti never comes right out and says it. But it’s intimated that they just had sex and are now having conversation in the bed afterwards. As the story unfolds, it sounds like he’s in a therapy session, like he’s confessing. In fact, if you found out at the end that he was with a psychiatrist, it wouldn’t surprise you at all. But that would be that ho-hum storyline you’re talking about.

So his monologue leads to one friend in particular, a woman, a woman he stole from another friend of his, and the woman became his lover. He talks about all the quirks this woman had that made her different, made her special. He tells how she wasn’t very elegant, or very book-smart, or the most beautiful, but she had a way about her, a way that commanded attention. People were drawn to her. She was everything that he wasn’t, and he loved that about her.

So, they became lovers. And after things became intimate, it began to unravel for him. All the perfection he had loved about her as a friend, he hated about her as a lover. He felt that she didn’t appreciate him, or need him. It made him feel like less of a man to be with her because she required very little from him and gave very little back.

In the final paragraphs of the story, the man confesses the rage that grew within him and his growing obsession with her perfection. He felt a need to put her in her place and when he just couldn’t stand it anymore, he killed her.

What’s really shocking in the end is that the woman who is currently with him (the one-night-stand) doesn’t even react to this news. And the man seems even less concerned  that he just shared that he is a murderer with a total stranger.

“Wow,” I said. “Great story. And you’re right! This is exactly what I’m talking about.”

The theme of lost love, and a confession, told in a unique way.

Putting Your Thought Process

Outside the Box Doesn’t Take that Long!

My wife, and I, brainstormed as we drove down Interstate 95 in Florida. In less than five minutes, we came up with several interesting ideas.

For some reason, the lost love theme often occurs in a coffee shop.

We decided for our story with a new thought process, everything would stay the same: the coffee shop, the forlorn memories, etc. But in the end, the MC would toss their payment on the table and leave with the thought, I’m glad that bitch is gone.

Our thought process lead us to an alternative outcome.

Then we talked about the confession story. In the slush pile this ALMOST ALWAYS occurs in an office of a therapist. So, what if the confession is the same but the listener is different; just like Benedetti’s story.

Alternative ideas, the MC confesses a murder to a: child? a dog? the wife of a friend? the pest control guy?

How would these alternatives affect the story? This is what my wife and I thought…

  • a child would react with innocence
  • a dog would not react, it wouldn’t care
  • the wife of a friend would react with shock or fear
  • the pest control guy might enjoy it, breaking up the monotony of his day

Just a little thought took our story to a completely different place.

All of us here at NovelNook.com hope that you’ll spend just a little extra time thinking about your next story. Reach deep down and search for a new angle for your story; one that will make it rise above the crowd; just like The Rain and the Mushrooms!

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “Unexplained Mysteries of World War II”, by William B. Breuer

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.

Authors Don’t Shoot Yourself In The Foot

Authors

Think MARKETING from A-Z

You’ve spent a lot of time writing your book. You’ve edited, and edited, and now it’s time to get that story out in front of the public and let the sales begin!

authors

Hopeful Book Sales – Graphic by The Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

But…

A new story begins

The story that I’m about to tell you.

The Story of Marketing

Several days ago my wife was sitting at her computer. She called out to me and asked me to come over to her. She said, that she had something to show me. As I approached, I saw her Kindle lying on her desk. Amazon was open on her computer’s desktop, and I knew she was hunting for books.

“Look at this,” she said. I leaned over her shoulder and stared at the screen. It was a book description. What I read shocked me (you’ll know why in a minute). “Now look at this,” she said. She scrolled up to the cover of the book. “It’s beautiful isn’t it?”

“Yes,” I replied. The cover was very nice.

My wife then scrolled down to the price of the book; it was free. She glanced up at me, acquiring this look in her eye, a look that says she is about to make a very important point.

“I was about to download this book,” she said. “Until I read that.” She pointed at the book’s description. It’s a shame,” she continued, “someone spent a lot of money on that cover. But if that description is any indication of the writing style… I don’t want it, even if it is free. It looks like a teenager wrote that! Don’t you agree?” She raised an eyebrow.

The truth was, I did agree. The cover indicated a beautiful romance novel. It looked like a period story, set perhaps in the 1940’s. The setting was rural, like a ranch, or a farm. All this information was conveyed to us visually (marketing) through the cover of the book.

And then there was the book’s description

authors

Lost Sales – Graphic by Higher-Education-Marketing.com

A book’s description is in a three-way tie for the front-end marketing strategy of your book.

BOOK TITLE / BOOK COVER / BOOK DESCRIPTION

In order to protect the author’s anonymity (the book my wife shared with me) I’m not going to say their name. I’m not going to say the name of their book. I’m not even going to completely show the entire book description.

I am going to pull a couple of lines from that description; just to give you a taste of what I’m talking about –

authors

Image by AllAboutEmotion.blogspot.com

Quote – “Paul had been a decent kid with two younger brothers, a loving mother, and an asshole abusive father.”

Quote – “But Paul stayed and took the abuse until his youngest brother was old enough to get the hell out.”

That’s enough to make my point. It doesn’t matter how well the book was written, how much editing effort went into it, or, even that it has a fancy (professionally produced) cover; the sale was lost because of a poorly written description.

It didn’t fit the feel of the cover.

Here is another example

Several months back, I was looking at my Twitter feed. There is an author there on Twitter who posts constantly all day long. On this particular day, they had posted the title of one of their books. The title sounded interesting, so, I clicked the link, and it took me to Amazon. The cover looked fine, and the title had already grabbed me; I began to read the book’s description.

I was flabbergasted at the poor punctuation, and grammar, in that description.

This particular author has a large presence on Twitter. I wrote them a “direct message,” to keep it private, and told them just what I told you. They wrote me back and told me to mind my own business.

Another lost sale!

The author did well on their front-end marketing with a great title and a decent cover. But, they failed on the back-end marketing; the did not provide a cohesive, well written, and applicable book description, and, they ignored direct feedback from a potential customer.

(Just out of curiosity), I went back and checked the book’s description while writing this article; it’s exactly the same. The author has, however, pumped out three more books in just a couple of months… “Sigh”

authors

Pumping out the books. Graphic by saneandsingle.blogspot.com

Everything you put out in public becomes marketing

Authors, I know many of us don’t know much about marketing and advertising. I know the bit that I do from running my business for many years. Plant these seeds in your head and let them grow!

  • Everything that goes in front of the public eye is marketing – good or bad
  • 98% of the population will notice what you did wrong and only 2% will notice what you did right. Reach for perfection in every aspect of your book, from the largest, and most obvious, to the minuscule.
  • You are authors. You need to carefully edit everything that gets published; even if it’s a Tweet, make it understandable and professional.
  • Pay attention to all aspects of your book: writing it, editing it, writing a synopsis, writing a tagline, producing a cover, writing your book description, doing a written interview or writing a guest blog about it; if you fail on any of these points, it will cost you readers. And…

 You’ll NEVER KNOW how many READERS you LOST

Readers just like my wife

Everybody here at NovelNook.com wants you to succeed. We want you to write great stories, with great editing, and great marketing. We look forward to reading your best efforts!

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “The Stories of Eva Luna”, by Isabel Allende

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.

Bellakentuky

The Secret To Curing Writer’s Block

Hi everyone!

Writer’s block—it’s probably afflicted you at one point or another, but how do you overcome it?

The secret to curing writer’s block isn’t a secret at all—in fact—it’s something you do at least once a day (for clean freaks and germaphobes, it might be four times a day).

SO WHAT’S THE SECRET?

Is it brushing your teeth daily? No.

Torturing ants with a magnifying glass? No, just no.

Dressing up like Sean Connery from Zardoz? What?

It’s actually none of the above. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to realize it, but the secret to curing writer’s block is to have a long, warm and relaxing shower.

Before a riot breaks out, let me answer some pressing questions.

QUESTIONS FROM AN ANGRY MOB

Aspiring writer Wally Lamb:
Tuan, are you effin’ kidding me? A shower? What kind of nonsense is this?

Tuan says:
I’m not kidding. I know there are countless ways to cure writer’s block, but the best method is to take a shower. Go on! Take one. I think you really need one.

Critically acclaimed writer Erskine Caldwell:
What if I don’t have a shower in my house?

Tuan says:
Find a waterfall or move to a rainy country.

New York Times bestselling author Jamie McGuire:
Do you have any evidence to support this silliness?

Tuan says:
Take it from me. 95% of the ideas in my short stories were born when droplets of water raced down my perfectly sculpted body. If you google ‘shower writers’, you’ll find some articles with a semi-scientific explanation on how having a shower stimulates the creation of ideas.

But when I’m in the shower, my mind is completely ‘pure’. Ideas will come into being and my heart and mind will instantly feel and measure the vast expanse of their potential.

If I’m trying to find a way to end my novel, I’ll keep asking myself how. For example: If I’m trying to find a logical way for my protagonist to go from point A to point B, how would I do this? I’ll ask myself this while I’m in the shower:

“Okay, so my character Roger needs to do this? But how do I connect this with that?”

Then the magic of having a shower kicks in and my mind responds to the request.

It discharges ideas at a rapid pace: “This could happen or that could happen”. If I don’t like the idea, I just let the thought pass. I don’t try and challenge it anyway. And then more suggestions and ideas will follow after that until you find an idea that simply ‘works’ or you have a magical ‘lightbulb’ moment.

USA Today bestselling author Jasinda Wilder:
But I do this even when I’m not having a shower. I love being dirty and smelly. Why are you trying to make me cleaner? What’s your hidden agenda?

Tuan says:
If your mind is ‘in the zone’, you can easily cure writer’s block without having a shower. But when you’re in the shower and you’re relaxed, the mind doesn’t have to devote any energy to your body, instead, all the processing power is concentrated on the thoughts you are sending it and it responds in an almost quantum computing-like manner.

And Jasinder, I have no hidden agenda. I like you just the way you are, dirty and smelly.

Bestselling author of the Sunrise Saga, Stephanie Meyer:
But will it help me write a bestseller?

Tuan says:
For the past fortnight, I’ve been trying to find a way to end my novel. And guess what? I came up with the ending while I had a shower. And I believe my novel will be a major bestseller, selling trillions of copies. So to answer your question—taking a shower will definitely help you write a bestseller.

Struggling up-and-coming writer James Patterson:
I can barely buy food for my hamster. Won’t taking extra showers increase my water bill?

Tuan says:
Taking twenty-minute showers every day will certainly result in higher water bills. But think of it as an investment. Higher bills will pay off when you see yourself on the New York Times Bestseller List. Don’t worry Mr. Patterson, you’ll get there one day.

Or you could do what I suggested earlier: Find a waterfall or move to a rainy country. Or do both.

So there you have it—the not-so-secretive cure to writer’s block has been revealed. You can now expect a huge surge in bestselling novels to plague the marketplace as well as meeting a lot more people with great personal hygiene. Be ready for it and protect yourself as if it was a zombie outbreak.

You’ve been warned.

Thanks for reading everyone. Have a great week!

You can follow me on Twitter: @Tuan_Ho444

Until next time, something wonderful awaits!

The Great Return Debate

Today is a topic with a big question I’d love for our readers to answer…

How long do you think a customer should have to return an eBook?

Apparently, Amazon has a seven day return policy on eBooks. Some thoughts I have heard while surfing around the ‘net include:

1. Is seven days too long? Someone can easily read a book in that time and the return means the Author has to give the money from that sale back.

2. Since customers can usually preview the first 10% of the book, should there be a return policy at all? They get the opportunity to know if they’ll like it before they buy it.

3. Can we really compare it to an actual store with a paperback? The customer returns it – either for cash or store credit – and the store has the product back to sell. The eBooks do not work that way, as it directly impacts the Author per #1.

Here is my personal opinion:

You shouldn’t be able to return an eBook under certain conditions. With Amazon, you get to preview the book most of the time. I have come across a few times I’ve not been able to look, but that’s very rare.

In the cases of books you can’t preview, I think it should be allowed for 24 to 48 hours. Otherwise? No – unless the book is so riddled with errors that you cannot possibly read it or the description was misleading and/or the book was in the wrong category. Again, 24 to 48 hours. Seven days is, in my opinion, entirely too long.

I read pretty fast. At nearly 600 words a minute, way faster than most people I know. I can read a 400 page romance novel in one hour if I am uninterrupted. The actual timing is not exact but that is to give you an idea. For me, I could buy books, return them and basically use Amazon as a library service.

Is this right? No. It’s not nice, either. It allows blatant abuse of the eBook system and while I wouldn’t dare do such a thing, being an Author myself…some people are not so scrupulous.

There has even been a petition started in hopes of sending to Amazon and convincing them to change their policy.

So tell me – what do you think the limit should be? Do you think Amazon should have one at all – such as in cases of the inability to preview a book?

Have you had people return your eBooks – two, three, four, seven days later?

I look forward to reading your thoughts below.
*Please note that this is my opinion and in no way is the opinion of Novelnook. But since this is an eBook site where you sell your books (or read the books of others) I figured it was the perfect audience to pitch such a question to. Thank you!*

 

 

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