Category Archives: prose

Time is Running Out! Enter Soon!

The Spiral of Time


2013 Frontiers in Writing Contest

Now open for entries 

 For one low entry fee you can now enter multiple categories

Cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in EVERY category.

Go to:

Entry rules, procedures and format regulations are listed on the FiW Writing Contest page

Download FiW entry Application and mail along with your entry.

Entry fees can be check or Money order, or pay online using “Payments” on the PPW website.

Sponsored by the Panhandle Professional Writers

Basics to Entering a Writing Contest

 Writing contests can offer great benefits to a writer, however they can also be intimidating. To help you wade through the process, let’s look at some of the basics of entering a Writing Contest.

1. Choose the right contest – Do the research to find the best contest for your writing. Contest entry fees can vary greatly from free to extremely high. The rewards can be just as varied from a simple recognition and critique of your writing, to rewards of money prizes and publication. Beware of contests that require you to purchase the published work of your “Winning” writing. More information can be found in my article Writing Contest Benefits.

2. Choose the correct Genre – To avoid poor critiques or placement, choose the correct genre for your work. While some pieces may cross over into another classification, you will have better results if you focus your writing to one specific genre.

3. Follow Submission Guidelines – When entering a contest pay close attention to the submission guidelines. These rules may vary greatly with different organizations and contests. Be diligent to have the correct word count while using the proper page format, font, and cover page identification requirements. Don’t expect contest officials to overlook the rules just for you, it’s their contest and it’s their rules.

4. Pay attention to Postage – If you are sending an entry by mail it will require the correct postage, so does the return of your entry. Read carefully any instructions regarding postage and the return mailing requirements of your entry or prizes. If you are using metered mail, postage from a meter or computer, understand that it expires on the date stamped. If you stamp the return envelope with the current date, and the contest results are not given for several months, postage may be expired and could result in your entry not being returned.

By following these few steps, entering a writing contest can be fun and successful!

Rory C. Keel


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Filed under Contests, genres, memoir, novels, poetry, prose, short stories, Writing

In Honor of Black History Month

Black History MonthThe month of February is Black History month.  I did a little research to find out more about some of the African-American writers who deserve to be honored this month.

We are all familiar with writers, such as Terry McMillan author of Waiting to Exhale (1992); and Toni Morrison, 1993 Nobel Prize winner and author of Beloved (1987) for which she won a Pulitzer Prize. The list also includes such writers as Alex Haley whose book Roots:  The Saga of an American Family (1976) was adapted to a popular television mini-series in 1977.

But the list of African-American writers of note not only includes these famous individuals and those such as poets Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou as well as novelist Alice Walker; it also includes more obscure names–people whose works you might have read and not realized that they were African-American.Black History month in books

Frank Yerby was an historical novelist best known as the first African-American writer to become a millionaire from his pen, and to have a book purchased by a Hollywood studio for a film adaptation.  The book, The Foxes of Harrow (1946) became the Oscar-nominated film “Foxes” starring Rex Harrison and Maureen O’Hara.

Samuel R. Delany is an author, professor and literary critic.  His work includes a number of novels, many in the science fiction genre, as well as memoir and criticism.

Octavia Butler (1947-2006) was a Hugo and Nebulla award-winning author of science fiction.

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) was the first African-American poet and the first African-American woman to publish a book. Born in Senegambia, she was sold into slavery at the age of 7 or 8 and transported to North America. She was purchased by the Wheatley family of Boston, who taught her to read and write, and encouraged her poetry when they saw her talent.

The publication of her Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773) brought her fame, both in England, and the Thirteen Colonies; figures such as George Washington praised her work. During Wheatley’s visit to England, the African-American poet Jupiter Hammon praised her work in his own poem.

This list is woefully incomplete.  It would take far too much time to list every African-American writer–past and present–whose name deserves inclusion in such a list.  During the month of February I challenge readers to visit the internet or your local library to discover the work of more of the gifted writers whose names belong here and share with PPW what you find.  Who is your favorite?  What genre do they write?

Suzanne Bogue


Filed under Black History, books, genres, poetry, prose, publishing, read, reading, research, short stories, writers

Writing Contest!

Typewriter Keys


2013 Frontiers in Writing Contest

Now open for entries

 For one low entry fee you can now enter multiple categories

Cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in EVERY category.

Go to:

Entry rules, procedures and format regulations are listed on the FiW Writing Contest page

Download FiW entry Application and mail along with your entry.

Entry fees can be check or Money order, or pay online using “Payments” on the PPW website.

Sponsored by the Panhandle Professional Writers


Writing Contests BenefitsPen and handwritten doc

It costs money; why should I enter? What benefit will a contest be for my writing and me? I’m not good enough so I’ll never win.

Those who are looking at entering writing contests frequently express these statements and questions. I know, I’ve asked most of them myself.

Having entered my share of writing contests let me offer some positive benefits from my personal experience.

1.Training for working with deadlines – Contests give a writer the opportunity to work under a deadline. Most contests will have strict dates for submitting an entry. This is good conditioning for working with agents, editors, and publishers who will place deadlines on your writing.

2.Provides automatic platform – A platform is your audience, those who will read your work. While your mother and “BFF” will gladly volunteer readership, contest judges can provide you with an unbiased and anonymous audience for your writing. And who knows, the judge may be an agent, editor or publisher.

3.Gain feedback – One of the most valuable benefits of a writing contest is the critique. To have the judge’s comments noting any mistakes, suggestions for improvement and yes, even praise can help improve your writing.

4.Build your portfolio – Writing contests are a perfect way to build your portfolio. When seeking an agent or publisher, a few writing clips, accomplishments and certificates may be the edge you need to seal the deal.

5.Increase your confidence – Entering a contest gives a writer the opportunity to gain confidence in their writing. Have you ever written something only to tear it up or hide it in a drawer? Have you ever said, “I could never write well enough to be published!” A writing contest provides an inexpensive way to test the waters of being an author.

6.Avoid scam contests – As with most everything, there are people who take advantage of others. Before entering a contest, research the person or organization holding the contest and make sure they are legitimate. There are a few contests that are no more than book selling scams. When your entry wins, it is accepted for publication in an anthology, with all of the other first place winners, then you must pay an outrageous price to obtain a copy.

Rory C. Keel

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Filed under basics, books, Contests, creativity, editors, genres, poetry, prose, publishing, story, techniques, writers, Writing, writing advise

Writing in the Spirit of the Season

Gift 4

During this  season of giving I would mention how wonderful a gift writers have to share their stories with family, community and all readers.   Whatever genre you write, I would ask during this season to give a gift of a short story, poem, or other writing, even if only to family, and consider the subject of patriotism – “devotion to one’s country, national loyalty.”  As citizens we have a privilege and duty of patriotism – whether it is to vote, serve on a jury when called, or just to obey our laws. 

We are very fortunate to have the freedom to write on any topic of our choosing.  We don’t  have to wait for editors or publishers to get works out, available for anyone to read.  We have the freedom for people to agree and disagree with our writing – without “book burnings.”  This and other freedoms we have would not have been possible without the past sacrifices of ancestors and continued commitment to service by firemen, police, military, etc.   We have many wonderful stories of these heroes and new stories are surfacing daily.  We have a growing archive of resources – through the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, county and state histories, reports by military historians, and daily newspaper reports of acts of valor.  We have new perspectives from women in service and naturalized citizens.  A family member, a friend, a neighbor may have a story to share.

I would ask writers to commemorate and perpetuate the spirit and purpose of the extraordinary men and women, past and present, who serve our country and preserve our American heritage so that future generations might continue to live in freedom and peace.

What stories of patriotism do you have to tell?

Donna Otto

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Filed under gifts, memoir, patriotic writings, poetry, prose, season of giving, short stories, story, writers, Writing

Using Poetic Language in Novels and Short Stories

May 19, 2012

Ever wish your prose read as lyrically as the masters do?

Guest speaker, Jenna Hodges Struble, will talk about the use of poetic language in novels and short stories.

Enhance your work to take the reader on a sensory journey that they will wish has no end. Learn how to write more descriptively with exercises and techniques from Jenna Hodges Struble.

Jenna has been writing for over 20 years, is a published poet and recording artist with her spoken word. She has taught creative writing to youth and adults for four years in the Amarillo area under the umbrella of the Writer’s Voice Program at the Amarillo YMCA. She has also been a guest instructor at the Austin International Poetry Festival and Y of the USA. Jenna has helped develop creative writing curriculum for several YMCA’s and youth poetry organizations around the country. Jenna is recently married to acclaimed creator and author for Image Comic’s Li’l Depressed Boy, S. Steven Struble.

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Filed under exercises, novels, poetic language, prose, short stories, Speakers, techniques, Workshop, Writing, writing advise